Roe8 project threatens Beeliar Wetlands

The Western Australian State Government is under intense community fire for allowing preparatory work to begin on the controversial Roe 8 Highway extension which would irrevocably damage the Beeliar Wetlands between North and Bibra Lakes before a High Court hearing on the issue takes place on December 16.

In a shocking provocation to the community, just weeks before this hearing and only months before a state election, the Barnett government has sent in contractors under the “supervision” of a strong police contingent to begin the destruction of bushland near the Beeliar Wetlands.

Photo by Rui You Kong (Facebook)Temporary fencing has been erected with an intention to trap Quendas and other fauna to be relocated to make way for clearing. It is known that the survival rate of relocated animals is very poor, so even these preliminary works are a serious environmental crime.

The response from the community has been swift with a strong presence of both protesters and police. There have already been numerous move-on notices issued by police but this will not deter the community, with many pledging to do whatever necessary, including sitting down in front of bulldozers.

In 1984, North Lake was a scene of public outrage, with the community literally risking their lives to protect the wetlands from the construction of Farrington Rd. This short video captures their courageous fight, which has become known as the Farrington Rd Blockade of 1984 and is cited as an inspiration and benchmark to many Roe 8 campaigners.

The Beeliar Wetlands are the most significant site of Aboriginal heritage in Perth, south of the Swan River. Waugal, Firestick and Spirit Children Dreaming stories are integral to this site. Roe 8 will desecrate this heritage. Custodian and community leader Corina Abraham has lodged a challenge to the Aboriginal heritage approval arguing the WA Government failed to follow procedural fairness in permitting the disturbance of a highly significant spiritual site of Bibra and North lakes.

Thanks to community monitoring efforts it has been found that internationally protected Rainbow Bee-eaters are nesting in the area to be cleared, having flown all the way from SE Asia on their annual migration. The unique birds nest in the ground and are extremely vulnerable to trampling or vehicle traffic so they are under direct threat right now, their presence had not even been identified by the environmental plan.

Rare and endangered species threatened by Roe 8 include: Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Southern Brown Bandicoot, Graceful Sun Moth, Lined Skink, Peregrine Falcon, Spotless Crake Buff-Banded Rail, King Spider Orchid. Recent studies have recorded 198 fauna species in the area. 177 species of native birds are likely to be present. Migratory wading birds like greenshanks, dotterels, red-necked stints, plovers and sharp-tailed sandpipers are often sighted in the area.

Lizards, frogs and turtles will not be able to safely cross this highway; nor will swans, who walk their cygnets from North Lake to Bibra Lake to stay until they can fly. It is estimated that on average 60,000 trucks and cars might use Roe 8 daily. Despite the proposed drains, oil, diesel particulates and heavy metals would build up over decades, affecting every species using the wetland. A single accident like a fuel truck overturning, would pollute groundwater and devastate the wetlands.

The Roe 8 project would also invade high-risk acid sulphate soil areas. Once disturbed by road and bridge building these soils become acidic - causing serious environmental and health impacts. Runoff from these soils can potentially kill aquatic life in the surrounding water, requiring complex and expensive remediation.

Friends of the Earth Australia stands with local community groups such as Rethink the Link in believing there is a better solution to the proposed Roe 8 Perth Freight Link and the raft of negative economic, environmental and social impacts it will have on the WA community.

TAKE ACTION: Please call Colin Barnett on 08 6552 5000 to urge him to protect our precious wetlands!