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Minister gives go-ahead to Point Grey Marina, but appeals to EPA lead to new conditions
Appeals to the EPA on a decision to permit the construction of a marina at Point Grey on the Harvey Estuary resulted in further scrutiny and studies of the proposal, leading to additional conditions by the Environment Minister.
“I am disappointed that our appeals were rejected, but some important objectives were achieved through this process,” said Planning spokesperson, Lynn MacLaren MLC.
Lynn MacLaren was one of the many West Australians who argued strongly against the proposal to build the marina. Lynn raised a number of concerns, including the adverse impact the marina would have on the values of the Peel-Harvey estuary. The development takes no account of the special significance of the region for the Nyungar people and the way of life currently enjoyed by the existing coastal communities. It takes no account of climate change, changing coastal processes and the risks of sea levels rising. In addition the associated dredging, pollution, excavation and dewatering of acid sulphate soils, poor water quality, and increased waste discharge will permanently alter the estuary’s ecosystem and affect the habitat of birds and animals.
In his decision, the Minister does not address the potential side effects of the management measures proposed by the EPA, nor the potential ongoing cost to the community and the environment of repeated dredging to remove sedimentation build up. He considers that concerns about impacts to the Ramsar values of the estuary, the destruction of bird, fish and mammal habitat, and changed coastal processes and climate change “can be adequately managed through the proposed conditions and with the input, advice and management by other relevant agencies”. The risk posed to the newly established marina community by rising sea levels is not mentioned.
The Minister’s determination is disappointing. One of the key issues raised by the appellants was that the construction of the marina and water channel would adversely impact water quality (through increased nutrient levels and otherwise), with serious consequential impacts on other estuary values. In relation to this concern the Minister notes the proponent’s view that the channel will be adequately flushed by the Dawesville channel, and the EPA’s view that the risk of nutrient release is low, and that “in the unlikely event nutrient releases exceeded certain trigger levels, the proponent would be required to implement management and contingency measures that could include maintenance dredging, mechanical oxygenations of the water column and application of binding agents”.
The Minister also notes the EPA’s view that the ongoing costs of periodic dredging to remove sedimentation build-up is best left to the Shire of Murray and the Department of Transport to negotiate with the proponent.
On the basis of these arguments put forward by the proponent and the EPA, the Minister “expressed confidence that the potential impacts of the proposal from nutrient release and associated maintenance dredging can be adequately managed through the application of appropriate monitoring and contingency conditions”.
There are only two small rays of light in this darkness. The Minister allows the appeals to the extent of requiring the proponent to prepare and implement a Marina and Channel Monitoring and Management Plan, to include details of contingency triggers and responses that will need to be to the satisfaction of the EPA. In addition, the Minister has agreed to a new condition requiring the proponent to make publicly available all validated environmental data required through any Ministerial Statement that may be issued for the proposal.
The EPA approved the development in December 2011, subject to certain conditions. Lynn and 18 others appealed the EPA’s decision. The EPA Appeals Convenor, having considered these appeals, released its report and recommendations to the Minister of the Environment in May 2012.
The full report can be found at:
The Minister’s Appeal determination dated 21 June 2012 can be found at: