CONCERNS the rezoning of Wattle Grove South could have severe ecological impacts has led to a formal environmental review.
Last month the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) found future development in the urban proposed area, south-east of the Tonkin Highway and Welshpool Road East intersection, contained environmental values which required investigation and possible protection.
“Future development of the amendment area may result in impacts to native vegetation, threatened ecological communities, habitat for threatened flora and fauna species, water-dependent ecosystems, inland water quality and quantity (surface and groundwater), Aboriginal heritage sites and amenity,” the EPA said.
It also noted future development could also impact the nationally significant Greater Brixton Street Wetlands.
Retired UWA biological sciences professor Hans Lambers said the underlying hydrology of Wattle Grove South was vitally important to the sensitive wetlands, which iare a global biodiversity hotspot.
“The area is of immense botanical, environmental and geological significance,” he said.
“Poorly planned and/or unsympathetic development of the area may have disastrous consequences for the groundwater which many species rely upon for their survival.”
The development project has long divided rural property owners, who want the subdivision potential urban zoning would bring, against those fiercely concerned about the environmental impacts of the project.
Passionate locals packed the August 2021 City of Kalamunda council meeting where councillors subsequently voted to endorse a preliminary submission on the metropolitan scheme amendment to the Western Australia Planning Commission from the City with comments.
During the meeting, Cr Janelle Sewell gave an impassioned speech in support of the City’s submission in which she expressed disappointment that members of the public had used environmentally-based arguments to manipulate council.
Cr Sewell said she did not believe the proposed plan would negatively impact the environment and instead believed it could be enhanced by the sustainable plan put forward by developer Hesperia.
In opposition to Cr Sewell’s argument, Cr Kathy Richie made an equally emotive speech against the motion, stating council’s actions would be judged by future generations.
Ultimately the motion to proceed was supported 9/2 with Crs Richie and Dylan O’Connor against.
The EPA review was welcomed by local environmentalist group EcoVision who said they remained steadfast in their defence.
“Residents aligned with EcoVision have campaigned long and hard to obtain this recognition of the environmental values of this area and have done so despite the indifference of the majority of councillors to our efforts, our research and our pleas,” group coordinator Charles Dornan said.
By Claire Ottaviano