By Renee Ciesla
Angry protesters met on the steps of parliament house today to express their anguish over the treatment of environmental wetlands across Perth.
Residents of Bayswater, in particular, are trying to put a stop to development in the wetlands neighbouring Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary.
Labor politician and anti-wetlands development advocate, Lisa Baker, said the government needs to act on the issue immediately.
“We want the government to intervene and help the City of Bayswater purchase those blocks out of private ownership and to retain them forever as safe wetlands,” Ms Baker said.
“We know much more about the value of wetlands now, so they need to be reclassified as more valuable so this development doesn’t happen.”
Ms Baker said the area gives people the chance to recreate along the river, with many exercising and walking dogs throughout the site.
State Minister for Planning Donna Faragher, who has the ability to stop construction, said she will support the City of Bayswater at this time.
“What I have said and what the Planning Commission has done, as requested, is that the development will not continue any further subdivision work at this time, to enable to city of Bayswater to make those investigations,” she said.
“The single fact is the area in question has had zoning approval for a number of years. The City of Bayswater has had ample opportunity to rezone the land and they chose not to.”
The Minister also took the opportunity to dismiss claims that the Planning Commission acted incorrectly.
“There were approvals sought by all of the environmental councils and no objections were made,” she said.
Senior Lecturer in Aquatic Ecology at Murdoch University, Jane Chambers, said these areas are more than just gardens or parks.
“Numerous scientific studies have shown that contact with nature improves our physical and mental health,” Mrs Chambers said.