THE Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has found a proposal to extend the State Barrier Fence environmentally acceptable and recommends it could be implemented subject to certain conditions, including measures to protect the western ground parrot.
Releasing a report and recommendations on the 660 kilometre extension of the fence, EPA chairman Tom Hatton said the authority had taken a holistic view of the likely impacts of the proposal.
“We have found the likely environmental impacts could be managed if our recommended conditions are implemented by the proponent,” Dr Hatton said.
“These conditions include measures to avoid impacts to the western ground parrot habitat, including changes to the materials used in the fence construction.
“As the western ground parrot is critically endangered (with an estimated 150 birds according to 2016 figures), we need to ensure the fence poses no increased impacts to the species.”
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) manages the previously constructed State Barrier Fence, which runs from north of Kalbarri to east of Ravensthorpe.
In June 2016, DPIRD referred its proposal to erect a 660km, 1.35-metre high extension to the State Barrier Fence to the EPA.
The extension will run from its current termination point (25km east of Ravensthorpe) north to Salmon Gums, ending east of Esperance, near Cape Arid National Park.
The purpose of the Esperance extension is to protect agriculture from wild invasive animals, such as wild dogs, emus and kangaroos.
The EPA has assessed the proposal and the proponent’s Environmental Review Document (ERD) was subject to a six-week public comment period.
The ERD received 2955 public submissions.
The EPA’s report to the Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, who makes the final decision, is open for a public appeal period, closing Monday, December 10, 2018.
WAFarmers welcomed the EPA’s approval of the Esperance extension, and appreciated the “holistic view” taken.
WAFarmers Livestock Council representative and Cascade farmer Scott Pickering said it was a great outcome for farmers in the affected regions and fits in with WAFarmers’ policy to ensure the protection of all livestock in WA from wild dogs.
“Assessments by the EPA have determined the Esperance fence extension proposal may be implemented provided the build of the extension is carried out in accordance with recommended dieback management measures and consideration of fauna, including the western ground parrot,” Mr Pickering said.
“The Esperance fence extension is expected to cost $10.8 million, with the State government contributing $6.9m, the Esperance Shire providing $1.4m and an extra $280,000 provided by the Ravensthorpe Shire.
“This total of $8.4m falls short of the $10.8m needed for the entire project and WAFarmers will continue to encourage the Federal government to provide the additional funding needed to complete this project.”
Mr Pickering said given there are no contentions to the extensions during the appeals process, building should commence early 2019.
“WAFarmers encourages Mr Dawson to sign off the proposal to allow the extension build to commence as soon as possible to avoid further demise to the welfare of livestock within this very important and productive agricultural area of WA,” he said.