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Eddie and Margaret Keil, Clive Mann and Yvonne Potter are hopeful their submission to Perth Airport will be successful.

Smokebush key to future for landlocked residents

AN endangered species of native flora may hold the key to aiding Forrestfield residents out of a sticky predicament – if Perth Airport is willing to come to the party.

Currently out for public comment, the City of Kalamunda’s Forrestfield North Local Plan identifies a stretch of land from Poison Gully in the North through to Bush Forever blocks on the south, near Brae Road.

This land has been identified as a Green Belt, which means when the Forrestfield North Local Plan comes into effect, that land will be sold to a developer and the houses removed, letting it return to bush.

That’s a problem for current residents, because as Clive Mann explains, it means his property is now worthless.

“The Green Belt is eventually purchased by a developer at the end of the project, but the project could take 20 or 30 years,” he said.

“At this present time, our land and our houses, which are our only assets, are worth nothing.”

“We’re not 20 or 30.

“In 20 years time I’ll be 80 trapped in a house where I can’t move, I can’t leave and I can’t sell.

“Our land has no value, we can’t sell and we can’t develop but we can still live here.

“Why maintain a property that has no value?

“When you look in the area, it’s starting to deteriorate because of that uncertainty.

“We can’t afford to sit here 20 years.”

The residents along Brae Road, however, believe there may be hope in the form of a small bush found both on their land and the land that will be used by Perth Airport to construct the third runway.

Wavey-Leaved Smokebush, or Conospermum undulatum, was declared as Rare Flora under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 in 1997 and is currently ranked as vulnerable under World Conservation Union (IUCN 1994) Red List.

In order to construct the runway, Perth Airport need to take measures to protect the smokebush, and one of those options can help the Forrestfield residents.

Quite simply, the Airport has an option to choose to buy land where smokebush naturally occurs as an offset against clearing the smokebush at the runway site, as they have already done for a rare species of banksia by purchasing land near Gingin.

There just happens to be Smokebush on the affected properties in Forrestfield, and now the residents and the City of Kalamunda are urging Perth Airport to do the right thing.

“We’ve written a submission to Perth Airport asking them to consider this, and we’re asking everyone in Forrestfield, everyone who is interested in protecting endangered flora, to get behind us,” he said.

“All our money is tied up in our property and sooner or later – certainly much sooner in some cases – we’ll need that money for aged care.”

The City of Kalamunda confirmed it is aware some residents are encouraging the airport to purchase offsets.

“The City is currently in the process of preparing a submission to Perth Airport on the new runway proposal which will include matters relating to the clearing of native vegetation,” a City spokesperson said.”

“The City supports Perth Airport acquiring land proposed for environmental conservation.”

A Perth Airport spokesperson said that all public submissions made during their public consultation period would be considered.

“In consultation with the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy (DEE) and the State Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), Perth Airport has also committed to an environmental offset arrangement which includes direct and indirect offset measures,” the spokesperson said.

“The offsets program will focus on addressing the impact to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) listed Macarthuria keigheryi and Conospermum undulatum.”

About Liam Ducey

Liam Ducey is an experienced journalist, having worked in print media in Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Port Hedland, Bunbury and across the metropolitan area, as well as online for several Fairfax Media mastheads. His reporting has seen him awarded the 2013 Clubs WA award for Best Club Media Story and the Western Australian Football Commission Umpiring Media Award in 2014. He was a finalist in three categories in the 2018 WA Media Awards and is not at all salty that he didn't win at least one. He's recently had a baby girl, Emilia, with his wife Roselyn and has lost all concept of time and sleep.

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