Opposition MPs Invited to Join Fight to Save Scarborough Dunes
Two key community groups opposed to the construction of major roads through the sand dunes at Scarborough Beach are reaching out to high-profile Opposition MPs in an attempt to get some transparency and clarity around what they call “unacceptable secrecy around the decision to go forward with the destruction of the dunes”.
Since the release of the Scarborough Beach Redevelopment project in 2015 the Friends of Trigg Beach and more recently Save Our Sanddunes (SOS), have been requesting copies of reports supporting the construction of the roads, which if given the go ahead will cut a deep swathe through protected sand dunes at the north and south of the beach.
“Efforts by us and our supporters to get information from the City of Stirling, from the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (MRA) and from MLA Liza Harvey’s office, have been met with either long periods of silence or standard responses which do not address our requests and appear to be designed to stall our protest,” said Robyn Murphy Convenor Friends of Trigg Beach.
“And, to add insult to injury, the last response we received from the MRA said that information would be given to the hand-picked Community Advisory Committee. But, according to the Terms of Reference, this Committee has been effectively gagged by a condition that bans any communications outside the committee meetings,” she added.
Representatives of the two groups met today (Tuesday, July 5, 2016) with Shadow Minister for the Environment, ChrisTallentire, in a bid to get their voices — and the individual voices of the thousands of Stirling residents opposed to the roads – heard.
“Chris Tallentire is deeply committed to the protection of our fragile environment and, as the Labor Party is widely tipped to win the State election in March next year, we want to show him the destruction that is likely to happen on his watch”, said Robyn Murphy
They walked the existing bush and walking tracks that run alongside the dunes, discussed the deep incursions that would result from the construction of the roads and agreed that there were many alternatives open to the MRA.
“Mr Tallentire has told us that he is aware that two important protected Bush Forever areas are threatened by the construction of these roads and car parks, and he has assured us that our concerns are being taken seriously by the Labor Party. He will be asking questions of the Minister for the Environment Albert Jacobs regarding the environmental assessments of the proposed roads and seeking their release to the public.” Mr Tallentire is also supportive of our efforts to have more transparency in the planning process.
According to Beth Kennedy, Convenor of the SOS Group, there is no evidence to support the need for the roads, and all levels of administration seem to have totally ignored, or overruled existing bush protection policies in place to protect the regionally significant coastal dunes north and south of Scarborough.
“This is a serious breach of democratic processes. The secrecy at all levels of government is of real concern and demonstrates that the State Government is determined to go ahead with the roads despite the huge opposition from residents, beach users and members of the public,” she said.
“Despite thousands of protest letters, emails, phone calls and signatures on our online petition – the MRA continues to hide behind a claim that “only a handful of residents” are concerned,” she added.
“And they have contrived to establish a so-called advisory committee that is hobbled by terms of reference that forbids discussion outside the committee process. Notably, the MRA is seeking advice from the committee on the design and planning of the roads, and no option is under consideration for the roads not to go ahead. This is a faux consultation process and it has no credibility,” Ms Kennedy said.
The Friends of Trigg Beach and SOS have called on the expertise of professionals to examine alternative planning options that demonstrate that these road extensions are unnecessary. “This is 20th century planning and is contrary to the MRA’s stated objectives of reducing car use and increasing access for pedestrians and cyclists at Scarborough Beach.” Ms Kennedy said.
Friends of Trigg Beach firstname.lastname@example.org https://friendsoftriggbeach.org/
Save Our Sanddunes (SOS) email@example.com https://saveourscarborough.wordpress.com/