Esperance fence extension appealed by Wilderness Society

A fire in the southern part of Cape Arid National Park threatened parts of the habitat of the western ground parrot. Photo: Parks and Wildlife Services.

A fire in the southern part of Cape Arid National Park threatened parts of the habitat of the western ground parrot. Photo: Parks and Wildlife Services.

The Wilderness Society has revealed they have serious concerns about the impact of the State Barrier Fence.

As a result, the organisation have appealed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to deem the State Barrier Fence Esperance extension environmentally acceptable.

The society has launched one of two appeals to the barrier, which extends existing fence from Ravensthorpe to Cape Arid National Park.

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Wilderness Society state director Kit Sainsbury said the organisation had serious concerns about the impacts of the fence on the critically endangered western ground parrot.

The species is one of the rarest parrots in the world and is only found in heathlands in Cape Arid National Park and the adjacent Nuytsland Nature Reserve.

A bushfire, which began on January 13, burnt through important parts of the parrot’s habitat. 

Mr Sainsbury called on the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) to do a full evaluation on the impact of the fire on the parrot’s population once the fire was fully contained.

The EPA’s November 2018 report included recommendations to implement measures to ensure the protection of the parrot.

We are incredibly lucky to have an animal like that in our midst and we need to do everything we can to protect it.

Wilderness Society state director Kit Sainsbury

Mr Sainsbury said the fence could have “severe and grave” impacts on the species.

 “The parrot is known to not be able to fly above 1.5 to 1.8 metres. As such, any fence is likely to be a severe barrier to the animal being able to clear said fence,” he said. 

The society called for targeted surveys of potential habitats around the fence to get an increased understanding of the project’s impact.

Mr Sainsbury could not say how long he expected a review of the fire’s impact to take as it would depend on the ability for a team to get to the remote area and would require extensive surveys. 

“You can’t just look at this over one four-day period, you have to look at it over months or seasons,” he said.

“I would suggest a full review.”

Mr Sainsbury said the society recognised the concerns of farmers but wanted a fully balanced consideration before Environment Minister Stephen Dawson made a final decision. 

“We are incredibly lucky to have an animal like that in our midst and we need to do everything we can to protect it.”

I think the EPA have done a great job, they have gone through everything and they have answered every question.

Esperance Biosecurity Association chairman Scott Pickering

Esperance Biosecurity Association chairman Scott Pickering said he expected the appeals and described them as attempts to stall the project.

“It’s taken a long time to get the EPA report out,” he said.

“I think the EPA have done a great job, they have gone through everything and they have answered every question.

“There is nothing new in these appeals, they want to stop the project.”

Mr Pickering said groups concerned about animal welfare should support the fence to prevent livestock from being slaughtered by wild dogs. 

A western ground parrot in Perth Zoo. Photo: Jennene Riggs.

A western ground parrot in Perth Zoo. Photo: Jennene Riggs.

Minister Dawson confirmed two appeals were received but would not identify the other appellant until appeals were determined.

The Appeals Convenor will investigate appeals on the minister’s behalf and will consult with relevant parties, including the proponent of the fence extension. 

“After considering the merits of the issues raised on appeal, the Appeals Convenor will provide a report and recommendations to me and I will make a determination on the appeal,” Minister Dawson said. 

“While there are no statutory time limits for the finalisation of appeal investigations, the Office of the Appeals Convenor aims to conclude the majority of its investigations within 60 days of receiving the final report of the EPA in response to the appeals. 

“At this stage, it is anticipated that the investigation will be concluded by early March 2019.”