01/04/2009 - 22:00

Wanneroo proposes cockatoo solution

01/04/2009 - 22:00

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A PROPOSAL by the City of Wanneroo could provide a solution to the growing concerns of developers over requirements to preserve habitats of the endangered Carnaby's Black Cockatoo.

HIT: A draft decision by the government refused approval for UWA’s Underwood Avenue development. Photo: Grant Currall

A PROPOSAL by the City of Wanneroo could provide a solution to the growing concerns of developers over requirements to preserve habitats of the endangered Carnaby's Black Cockatoo.

Under the city's plan, developers in the first instance are given the option to preserve a portion of land within the development for habitat conservation or revegetation, which could be part of the public open space.

If that option was not viable, the developer could look for other suitable areas of land within the local government area to revegetate or rehabilitate to plant 'offsets'.

Other areas of land could include neighbouring bush or parkland, or in a consolidated parcel of land set aside for the purpose of offsets.

The latter option could present an opportunity for the City of Wanneroo to move on its vision to revegetate and rehabilitate the Gnangara mound and pine plantation.

Mayor Jon Kelly believes that would be a more cost-effective solution, which would yield a better environmental outcome.

"We have to revegetate Gnangara at a significant cost to the state government. I'm concerned that it will never be rehabilitated to a high quality of environmental outcome because of the cost," Mr Kelly said.

The issue affects more than 50 per cent of all developable land on the north-west corridor and could have a significant impact on the social and economic development of the corridor, according to Mr Kelly.

The impact of Carnaby's cockatoos could potentially encompass many developments in the South West, in the area spanning from Geraldton to Esperance, where the bird is native.

The city's proposal comes as the federal government releases its first report as part of the review into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The act requires all developments that could potentially risk the habitat of the cockatoo and other listed endangered species to receive federal government approval.

In the report, the review committee recommended that the use of offsets should be a last resort and must deliver a net environmental gain.

One of the key issues developers are facing with the act is that it overrides all other state approvals, essentially giving the federal government power of veto of developments.

UDIA chief executive Debra Goostrey said a consolidated approach was needed towards offsets that recognised the viability of offsets on an allocated large parcel of land, such as the Gnangara mound.

She said the requirement for 'like for like' offsets in an area near the development is unworkable in instances where surrounding land is zoned urban.

"We're working towards a more strategic approach rather than development by development," she said.

There have been two notable recent decisions involving the act.

The first was the Fiona Stanley Hospital, with the federal government approving construction on the back of a package of measures designed to protect the cockatoo in exchange for clearing 25 hectares of land.

In what could set a costly precedent, the reported $2 million package included research funding, offsets and rehabilitation of native foraging habitat in land adjacent to and near the site, which amounted to twice the area used for the construction of the hospital.

The other was the draft decision refusing approval for the University of Western Australia's plans for a residential estate at Underwood Avenue in Shenton Park.

That decision was despite the developer's plan to retain 11.9ha of habitat within the proposed development, representing almost 36 per cent of the total developable area. The university has since withdrawn its referral.

Other developments currently out for public comment include the Jandakot airport redevelopment, Cape Bouvard's Halls Head residential development, Stockland's East Landsdale residential development and the Alkimos development by Peet.

Mirvac last month received approval for its Bridgewater North project in Mandurah from the federal Department of Environment after working with the department for more than a year.

Approval was granted approval with several conditions, including tree retention to ensure preservation of habitat for the cockatoo.

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