By Claire Ottaviano
MUNDARING archaeologist Bob Sheppard and Swan Hills MLA Jessica Shaw have successfully fought changes endangering heritage protections in Western Australia.
Under current State planning and development regulations local governments ‘must’ establish and maintain a heritage list, known as a survey, to identify places of cultural significance worthy of conservation.
However, a proposed amendment to State planning and development regulations would have seen ‘must’ replaced with ‘may’.
Mr Sheppard, an avid voice in the call for protection of Chidlow’s World War II army camps, said on his Heritage Detection Australia blog in September the small change would make a mockery of heritage protection protocols.
“It appears in the future the requirement to create a Heritage List is at the discretion of Shire [and City] planning departments,” he said.
“In my view, and experience, many planning departments are currently failing to maintain and review Heritage Surveys and neglect heritage.
“I do not believe planning departments will create Heritage Lists when there is no obligation to do so, as in my experience, heritage is seen as an impediment to development.”
Mr Sheppard met with Ms Shaw who later wrote to planning minister Rita Saffioti.
“[My constituents] have been attempting to get the last-remaining metro area Chidlow World War II campsites placed on the Shire’s heritage list,” she said.
“The Shire has not taken action and not updated its register of historical sites since the mid-1990s despite community pressure.
“A further weakening of the obligations on local government to identity and preserve sites of historical significance would send the wrong signal about the importance of protecting our invaluable local heritage.”
In response to the letter, Ms Saffioti said almost a third of the 117 public submissions received to the proposed regulation amendments objected to the suggested change to local government’s obligation to have a list.
As a result the change would not proceed.
Ms Shaw has also written to the Shire of Mundaring urging its register of historical sites be updated and the Chidlow army camps added.
Echo News understands a report on the matter is expected to come before council in December.