WA coast is a mess, according to the State Government's new draft policy
on coastal zone management released late last week.
governments cannot, and do not, stop four-wheel driving and illegal camping
on beaches. The State Government has made things worse by cutting funds
for coastal management.
Bad planning and environmental ignorance mean erosion
is a big problem at Mandurah, Cottesloe, South Fremantle, Bunbury, Busselton
And taxpayers are paying the price.
The draft policy on coastal zone management is couched
in cautious terms: the Government's objectives are to protect, enhance,
conserve, maintain and restore the coastal environment, while mitigating,
avoiding, recognising and minimising problems.
The underlying message is reasonably clear.
The draft policy says: "Reasonable demands of
housing, tourism, recreation, commercial and other activities along the
coast should be accommodated."
But it warns that developments should only happen
if they can be "done within the bounds of ecological sustainability
and within standards which are acceptable to the community".
The policy may provide hope for WA's increasingly
vocal protesters whose favourite coastal haunts have become battlefields
in the fight over development. At Leighton Beach last year, 5000 people
turned out to protest against a $100 million redevelopment of the old
railway marshalling yards into 200 prime beachfront residential blocks.
After continuing public protest the plan was scaled
At Gnarabup, west of Margaret River, a group of residents
has fought fiercely against a housing estate by the beach - to the point
of taking government departments to court.
At Smiths Beach, south of Yallingup, criticism is
growing over plans for a residential and tourism development, including
an outdoor festival area, village and community centre.
Other targets include Bunker Bay, Moses Rock, Indegup,
Moore River, Ningaloo and a host of other locations chosen for tourism
and residential projects.
According to the latest Tourism Development Register,
more than 10 projects worth between $10 million and $200 million have
been proposed along the coast.
The reason for all the development is simple - demand.
Between 1971 and 1990, the number of people living
on the coast bordering the metropolitan area climbed 600 per cent.
In the next 20 years, the demand will be strongest
in the South-West, where the population is expected to increase 60 per
Busselton Shire Council chief
executive Michael Swift said the council had dealt with many of the most
controversial proposals with increasing population in mind. "We
have had pressure to expand Yallingup and to develop Smiths Beach and
Indijup and put a full-blown townsite at Moses Rock," he said.
"We decided Smiths Beach would be used to accommodate
development pressure and relieve other sites." Mr
Swift said the shire did not want a single band of development stretching
between Dunsborough and Busselton but decisions had to be made about accommodating
Conservationists and locals fear too many developments
will destroy the fragile beauty of the coast.
Margaret River conservationist Rod Whittle warned
the situation at South-West coasts was coming to a head.
Mr Whittle said the protest groups were mobilising
and planned to escalate the campaign against development during the State
"I think there is now general community opposition
to the over-development of all these areas," he said.
"We are holding a general meeting of groups in
the next week to find some common ground. With the election coming, we
want to produce a list of planning reforms that we would like to see."
It may be a force greater than the conservation movement,
which determines if coastal development in WA is limited.
In June, a United States Government report sent shivers
through US developers after finding 25 per cent of all buildings within
152m of the coast could be eroded within 60 years.
Department of Transport senior coastal engineer Peter
Boreham said the situation in Australia was not quite as drastic. But
he admitted that erosion was a threat to some coastal development. "Coastlines
are always eroding. There are hundreds of kilometres eroding on the south
coast between Albany and Esperance," he said.
© Copyright 2001 by
West Australian Newspapers
Ltd. This report is for information only. No charge for such use is
made and the material is not being used for commercial purposes. The text
has not been modified from the original report.
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