Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary – Part 3

Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary

Due to the destruction of the wetlands around the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary, I submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Planning on the 27th of July. I have now received the documents I sought.

The request was for the release of environmental matters/research/correspondence the West Australian Planning Commission  (WAPC) used when deciding to approve the request for subdivision.  I wanted to know why the WAPC was comfortable in approving the sub-division application with a cash-in-lieu payment instead of an increased buffer zone between the development and the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary.

After going through the documents, with one exception, and one error, I can almost understand why the WAPC made the decision they did. To me, the blame lies mainly with the Department of Parks & Wildlife (DPAW).

Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) emailed and stated they had reviewed the subdivision and had no comments to make – WAPC therefore rightly placed no regard to natural assets because the organisation that has a mission statement “To ensure that the nature of Western Australia is protected and conserved, for its intrinsic values and to enrich people’s lives” made no comment.

Department of Water simply recommended a minimum habitable floor level of 4.67m. The WAPC detailed this in advice note 1 of the approval.

Environmental Report provided with the application was from 360 Environmental and commissioned by the ABN Group (the company names were redacted, however have been sourced elsewhere). It concluded that there does not appear to be any significant environmental features or constraints that would not be manageable and may prevent consideration of the development”. Of great importance however is that the environmental report related to lots 6-10 Leake Street and DID NOT relate to lot 14.

Lots 6-10 are shown below in yellow and really don’t appear to be environmentally sensitive:

Enviro Report

Lot 14 (upper left red box below) is where the WAPC approved the temporary cul-de-sac heads and has a far greater tree canopy, and as anyone who has visited the site well knows, a teeming fauna life under the tree canopy.

tree canopy

It was indeed fortunate for the developer that they submitted an environmental report which did not include Lot 14, and a great pity the WAPC did not take note of this omission.

Department of Environmental Regulation (DER) simply provided advice on the acid sulphate soils and recommended that acid sulphate soil condition EN8 and advice note ENa1 are applied to the approval. The WAPC did this. It is unfortunate that the DER, who claim that “clearing native vegetation is an offence, unless done under a clearing permit, or the clearing is for an exempt purpose” also did not consider lot 14.

Bushfire Hazard Assessment statesthe subject land is identified as a bush fire prone area, designated by the Fire and Emergency Services (FES) Commissioner”. The Bushfire Assessment led to point 11 of the WAPC approval which is:

“A Bushfire Management Plan being prepared, approved and relevant provisions implemented during subdivisional works in accordance with the approved plan (attached), in accordance with the WAPC’s Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas (December 2015) to the specifications of the local government and/or the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.”

What should be of concern to the applicant is that the Bushfire Assessment offers a recommendation that no development should occur on lot 10 until such a time as lot 14 is cleared for development.  Ergo, the WAPC approval is conditional on a Bushfire Management Plan being approved by the local government and/or DFES, yet I am unsure how an approval can be given until lot 14 is cleared for development.

City of Bayswater staff excelled, and the WAPC’s biggest error was to ignore the one voice which spoke against the development proceeding in its current form. In a passionate letter dated the 2nd March 2016, a senior staff member detailed the importance of the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary, that the City is requesting DPAW to review the existing classification to ‘Resource Enhancement’ (so WAPC shouldn’t really say they approved it because it was next to a lowly zoned ‘multi-use wetland’), that the proposed development does not consider the future impact of residential development on the Bird Sanctuary and that the City’s does not support a cash-in-lieu contribution for public open space (POS) as the POS should be provided and serve as a buffer between the development and the bird sanctuary.

Unfortunately, there are far too many government departments which make decisions without placing sufficient weight in the local government’s views. Without placing sufficient weight on  the views of the people who know the area and who represent those living in the area. SAT’s abysmal decision to approve a concrete batching plant in a highly unsuitable location is but one other example of this occurring.

In conclusion, the DPAW failed abysmally, the DER failed and the WAPC failed by not listening to the Local Government and not realising the environmental report did not include Lot 14.

I am unsure whether the DPAW and the DER were aware of the City of Bayswater’s views. If not, then a process should be put in place where they request what the views of the local government are.

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
Previous –  24 July 2016 – Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary – Part Two

7 thoughts on “Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary – Part 3

  1. To add insult to injury , Albert Jacob, Minister of the Environment, has repeatedly stated that this issue has nothing to do with his portfolio. In my view, he is wilfully negligent and should be stood down.

    1. Yeah possibly. Mary, I’ve not met Albert, but I imagine he’s a nice guy who is trying to do his best; I really do. Unfortunately he hasn’t insisted that his environment portfolio take dominance over other portfolios such as transport, education and planning. If he is a Christian, as is reported, he may find strength in Deuteronomy 11:12, “It is the land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to the end”. Or in Jeremiah 2:7, “I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and fresh produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.” I don’t think I have ever met a Christian who isn’t pro environment, so I imagine he is; but perhaps there are other forces at play. Certainly, he is politically naive to not have simply instructed the EPA to do an environmental analysis on the concrete batching plant; zero downside to him/Liberal Party, only upside. A most peculiar decision.

  2. Thanks Chris. That pretty much sums up what No Houses in Wetlands has surmised, except for the added piece of important information being the advice from the Rivers and Estuaries Division of the Department of Parks and Wildlife to the Council, which strongly recommended a buffer zone for the “Skipper’s Row” development, dated 1st October 2015, yet the final advice that came out of DPaW to the WAPC regarding the development site was contrary to that. So we have DPaW with two opposing positions with respect to the development. And we suspected that the Developer submitted an environmental report that did not in fact cover all of the areas to be developed, leaving out mention of an entire wetland and the vegetation in and around it. So what happens when the WAPC relies on incomplete or even incompetent information to make such an important development decision? Rachael Roberts, No Houses in Wetlands

    1. Hi Rachael, I believe there is an impasse due to the planning requirement for a Bushfire Management Plan to be approved as I can’t see how that can happen until Lot 14 is cleared. I was also extremely heartened and pleased to see the submission from the City of Bayswater’s planning department. Although I’d hate to imagine what the planning department would be thinking if only 1 councillor voted a different way as the development would then have had the council’s endorsement.

  3. Chris I initially thought like you, that Albert Jacob was a nice guy caught between a rock and a hard place. Until I witnessed 2 hours of his schoolboy swaggering and smirking, goading other speakers to deflect his lack of knowledge and outright lying. I don’t understand why someone in his position is not held more accountable . The impression he gives is that he genuinely does not care about these issues and has no respect for the public. I do not understand why his church GlobalHeart and the business network, Kingdom First is not under closer scrutiny? As in membership and donations? Because something is not adding up here and with his department,and the pro development decision making .

    1. More on global heart from the west blog

      The West Australian reports…

      “A northern suburbs church, which embraces supernatural healing and speaking in tongues, has become closely aligned to the Liberal Party with two church members – Environment Minister Albert Jacob and Joondalup MP Jan Norberger – already elected to Parliament.

      At least six other members of the Globalheart Church in Joondalup hold senior positions in the Liberal Party’s Moore division or have taxpayer-funded jobs in the electorate and ministerial offices of Mr Norberger and Mr Jacob.

      A son of Globalheart’s husband-and-wife pastors, Gerard and Sue Keehan, is employed in both MPs’ offices. But neither MP would discuss the connections when contacted by The Weekend West and issued brief statements in response to a number of specific questions……”


      The West Australian further reports…

      “The Globalheart Leadership College – an offshoot of the charismatic Globalheart Church in Perth’s northern suburbs – has some non-negotiable conditions for its students.

      They must talk to the principal before dating a fellow student, abstain from homosexuality and accept that Pentecostal glossolalia – the ancient practice of speaking in tongues – will be a part of any baptism…..”


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