23/07/2009 - 00:00

Turtle stalls Pilbara plan

23/07/2009 - 00:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

PART of the third stage of the contentious Pretty Pool development at Port Hedland has been stalled by the environmental watchdog, which ruled it threatened a nesting site for flatback turtles.

PART of the third stage of the contentious Pretty Pool development at Port Hedland has been stalled by the environmental watchdog, which ruled it threatened a nesting site for flatback turtles.

State government agency LandCorp wanted to rezone 37 hectares of coastal land from rural to urban development at the site, five kilometres from the Port Hedland town centre.

The Environmental Protection Authority recommended the proposed area is incapable of being developed in an environmentally acceptable manner.

The decision comes amid efforts by the new state government to release more land in the Pilbara, which has been hamstrung by the lack of living space during the current phase of rapid development.

The flatback turtle has also proved an obstacle to another development, namely the $50 billion Gorgon LNG project on Barrow Island.

In a report released on Monday the EPA said stage three of the Pretty Pool Park development was "incapable of adequate environmental management" with special regard to the protected flatback turtle.

Development in close proximity to flatback turtles' nesting beach creates an unacceptable environmental risk, according to the report.

"The EPA considers that the proposed provisions, including management plans, do not, and can not meet the EPA's objectives for specially protected or threatened fauna," the report says.

According to LandCorp, the EPA's ruling on stage three will have no effect on stage four, which sold out last year.

The amendment to the town of Port Hedland's town planning scheme number five, to establish the south-western portion of the Pretty Pool area as an urban development zone, was first floated in August 2008.

The Pretty Pool development has been a contentious issue for the state government for other reasons recently, with 25 lots set aside for Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Andrew Forrest on the understanding the land would be developed to house FMG workers.

The land was eventually sold to Mr Forrest's private company, Minderoo, for $4.8 million, but by the time development got under way, the global recession meant FMG no longer needed the houses.

At the end of June, Mr Forrest proposed the Town of Port Hedland buy 10 of the 25 lots for a "cost price" of $8 million, with the profits from the sale to go to a charitable trust with four directors - Mr Forrest, his wife, Nicola, and two Port Hedland councillors.

Pilbara Labor MP Tom Stephens said Mr Forrest should hand the properties back to the state because they were no longer going to be used for their intended purpose, housing FMG workers.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options