Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary – Part 2

Perth Voice 2

We have an issue in Western Australia. It’s not one that can be fixed by simply changing political parties; it is one which is entrenched. The Department of Main Roads, Department of Education and Department of Planning have shown that the environment is not something they are concerned about.

As Edmund Burke wrote, “Society is a contract … it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born. Each contract of each particular state is but a clause in the great primæval contract of eternal society.” Just as my beliefs on financial management hold true, so too do my beliefs on the environment. Today’s society has a responsibility to ensure tomorrow’s can enjoy what we currently do.

And yet we, collectively, are failing.

The locals of Bayswater are complaining about the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary development but only a handful would be aware that Point Peron, Mandurah, Beeliar and many other areas face the same problem. And yet I don’t point the finger of blame because I have no right to; I have only just signed the Mandurah petition, and have turned a blind eye to friends who have asked me to get involved with Point Peron. This weekend was already too full for me to go to Riverside Gardens and help today with signature collecting for the petition to protect the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary. I give credit to those who did brave the weather. Those who decided that there was no better thing to do this weekend other than make a stand and have their voice heard.

Should it be our job though; is it beholden on us to educate and lobby the government on how they should protect the environment for today’s and tomorrow’s generations? I would hope not.

But, from all the media coverage on the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary development, one thing rings the loudest. “A recommendation for land along the King William Street frontage of the proposal to be set aside as additional public open space was determined to be of no practical benefit as a buffer,” Department of Planning Acting Director General Sue Burrows said.

My questions for the grandiosely titled Sue Burrows are:

  1. Said who? Who determined it would be of no benefit?
  2. Why was a development adjacent to Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary not considered important enough to go to the full commission; why was it handled under delegated authority by presumably junior staff?
  3. Why were there so few environmental conditions imposed on the development? One concern is that it is widely known that there are acid sulphate soils in the area, and when it was disturbed it can simply run through the open pipeline to the Swan River. Another is that there is precious wildlife in the area which bulldozers could be crushing.
  4. I have been assured the Department of Parks and Wildlife wrote a letter supporting the increased buffer zone. Why was this recommendation ignored?

If you have any other questions you would like answered, please add them below in the comments section. In a few days I shall be submitting a Freedom of Information request for this information if the questions remain unanswered.

There is one thing my life has assured me of, we all make mistakes. I suggest the WAPC would be well served by admitting theirs rather than entrenching a position which can’t be defended.

Power to the people.

(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater)

Previous – 15 July 2016 – Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary
Follow up – 8 September 2016 – Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary – Part 3

11 thoughts on “Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary – Part 2

  1. Over the past couple of years or so I have appreciated the efforts you have been making to improve our living conditions by pushing for more trees to be planted. At last your words are being heeded and other councils and some of your own fellow councillors have woken up to this major problem.

    And now thank you for your recent comments about the wetland situation at the Singleton reserve and also about other situations in Perth and surrounding areas.. At last someone has taken the time and has the courage to speak about it. Well done Chris.

  2. Why are the WAPC making decisions on developments in environmentally sensitive areas? Are they environmental scientists? Saying they didn’t know they were dealing with an ESA is no excuse! The fact that the CoB had refused the application on detailed environmental grounds should have given them a clue! We stand to lose this wetland, followed by ESBS , probably followed by a further decline in river health and for what? An expensively engineered housing development for a housing we don’t really need. There are hundreds of apartments being built around Bayswater/Bassendean/Maylands. What we don’t have much of – are wetlands and bird sanctuaries. And these are drawcards for a LOT of people.
    Also – it was delegated to a staff member? Why? Where is the accountability??
    Why was there no community consultation? Because they don’t have to? Again, not good enough! This is about peoples liveability.

  3. and I forgot – why are they entitled to hand out Native Vegetation Clearing Permit Exemptions to developers under the Subdivision Approval?? As stated they are not qualified to make environmental decisions. And once a development gets one exemption I imagine it would be quite easy for other exemptions to follow. A mine site would probably be prosecuted if they didn’t apply for a clearing permit, anyone on private land with native veg has to apply too. Now we know how developers are getting away with the excessive clearing they do. Once your development has an exemption to clear – its not in the system and I imagine further clearing will never be monitored so they can clear as much as they like really.

  4. Thank you Chris for your commitment to finding out what errors have occurred regarding approving this development. And for highlighting that if no process errors are in place that we have an even bigger problem. A couple of questions:
    If it is shown that the WAPC did not conduct adequate review, can the approval be overturned?
    If the approval cannot be overturned, can the City and the WAPC negotiate with the owners to install the buffer, to the cost of the City and the WAPC?
    Can the City look to reviewing future infill greenfield areas such as this in the City, with the view of discussing with residents the option of purchasing land that has a strong environmental value.
    Aiming for a no suprises position will allow for innovation before crisis point, as we have now.

  5. ‘ We have an issue in Western Australia. It’s not one that can be fixed by simply changing political parties; it is one which is entrenched. ‘
    I would disagree, and also add that you’re simply trying to shift blame from the Liberal party, to which you belong, who are on the nose and to blame for this . Governments RUN government departments, by blaming a government department you are blaming the government itself.I’m glad your party has a rare few people like yourself with a respect for the environment, but historically environmental protection has always been stronger from the other side. I’m a greens voter but I’ll always credit Labor where it’s due, I’ll never forget that WAS labor ended old growth forest loggin,, and the liberals opposed it. I could list many more examples.
    I wish there were more like you in the Liberal party, but it sure as heck is time for the Liberals to go.

    1. Ha, yes I thought that may trigger some debate. The Libs do have in their ‘Beliefs‘: “In preserving Australia’s natural beauty and the environment for future generations”. If the current government is not doing that then they are failing their members (as well as the wider community). It is however the federal libs who launched the 20 million trees by 2020 initiative earlier this year. Queensland labor love mining, WA Labor love property developers, and I’m pretty sure it was a Victorian Lib govt in 2012 which introduced a moratorium on Coal Seam Gas exploration and are pushing for that moratorium to continue. And in NSW, “the Liberal National coalition government has cancelled around a dozen exploration licences granted under the former Labor government.” As for wetlands, I think there is a very good reason why Labor is not making a fuss over Point Peron and Mangles Bay Marina.
      Now I am certain Simon that you, or anyone else, could provide many dozens of examples of where the Liberals have been negligent in their treatment of the environment. I do however believe what I wrote and think it is government departments, and the mentality within, to blame. I am also not so interested in defending the lib party; they don’t pay my salary and they don’t elect me to council. I am only focused on serving my electorate and in doing so will happily work with any party. That said, I acknowledge your points, the libs are in power at the moment, and ultimately must take responsibility for the government departments they are meant to be supervising. I also acknowledge that there is a growing number of the electorate who want to see a change of government.

  6. Thank you so much Chris. Your efforts and intellect on matters of the environment are very much valued. I agree with, and commend all points made above except one. Like some above I believe there is a direct link between government and government departments. Government not only run these departments, Ministers are directly accountable for the policies, actions and decisions of departments. Consistent with this, I believe that putting pressure on, and if necessary changing political parties may be one of the only effective mechanisms we have to bring about change.

    1. Thanks for your comments Anna and fair points you make re Ministers needing to be accountable. I do agree that putting political pressure on government does lead to changed practices.

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