Politicians to join the fight

Media Release 4 July 2016

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 friendsoftriggbeach@gmail.com https://friendsoftriggbeach.org/

Save Our Sanddunes (SOS) savescarboroughdunes@gmail.com https://saveourscarborough.wordpress.com/

Does the MRA ‘get’ planning policy?


State Planning Policy – Bush Forever

The Friends of Trigg Beach have offered to send Kieran Kinsella the CEO of the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority a copy of State Planning Policy 2.8 Bushland Policy for the Perth Metropolitan Region.

Convenor Robyn Murphy said that it was apparent that Mr Kinsella and the MRA either were ignorant of the policy or were choosing to ignore it.  “The State Planning Bushland Policy protects important and regionally significant natural areas from unnecessary development. There is no doubt in our minds that the two new roads planned by the MRA north and south of Scarborough Beach constitute unnecessary development, and Mr Kinsella should be aware of this.”

“The routes of the proposed roads would destroy significant areas of the coastal dune systems that are protected under the State Planning Policy on Bush Forever areas.  The areas are included in the Quindalup Dunes policy because of their regional significance and their conservation value, and because they remain relatively intact.”

“The section of the Bush Forever policy that protects Quindalup Dunes emphasises the importance of keeping a sufficient area intact to enable natural coastal processes to continue and to provide the variety of habitat necessary for the reptiles and birds that inhabit the dunes.”

“The policy emphasises the fragility of this coastal environment particularly as it remains a relatively narrow strip of vegetated dunes which have been subjected to incursions of car parks and tracks causing damage and weed invasion.  This makes the remaining intact dunes worthy of protection now and for future generations.”

We wonder if Mr Kinsella is aware that a clearing permit from the Environmental Protection Authority will be required before work commences on these roads and that the area’s Bush Forever status should make this approval unlikely.  Now is the time for the MRA to put a hole in this “thought bubble” and abandon these road extensions.

Ms Murphy said the route of the proposed Esplanade extension at south Scarborough Beach will destroy a significant area of Bush Forever site 310.   She said it made no sense to build a road so close to the beach and recent storms in Eastern Australia had shown the dangers of building structures close to the coastline which will only get worse with climate change and rising sea levels.

State Coastal Planning Policy

There is another State Government policy of which the MRA appears unaware, that is the State Coastal Planning Policy.  This policy provides guidelines for the protection of the coastal environment and reports that development should not occur on or adjacent to unstable or mobile dunes.  Perhaps we should also forward a copy of this report to Mr Kinsella.

The standard width for two lane roads in WA is 7.4 metres and given the likelihood of parallel parking and a bike and pedestrian lane, we can safely assume these roads will be much wider.  We have also been advised by the MRA that given the depth of the valleys and the height of the sand dunes along the road route, retaining walls or embankments will be necessary.  Not only will this destroy the dunes along the route, the impact on the remainder of the reserve will be devastating, during construction and forever afterwards.

Public opinion – Roads along the beach – 20th century planning

Local residents and conservation groups are mobilising to oppose this unnecessary and environmentally destructive road.

“Public opinion opposing the extension of the Esplanade north and south of Scarborough is growing and our campaign will continue until the road proposal is abandoned.  These coastal dune systems north and south of Scarborough are the “lungs” of Scarborough Beach and they should be valued as a unique remnant of how our coastline looked before white settlement, this alone makes these areas worthy of conservation.”

If the State Government is committed to making Scarborough Beach an international tourist attraction then it makes sense to keep these natural coastal dune systems intact as research shows overseas visitors marvel at our beautiful natural areas close to our cities.  This is what makes Perth and WA unique; it seems unbelievable that in the 21st century the MRA would plan to build roads through these areas.

Robyn Murphy
Friends of Trigg Beach
17 June 2016

Channel 7 – 17/4/16 – Beach Fight

Listen to Friends of Trigg Beach chairperson Robyn Murphy and Scarborough local resident Phil Smith explain to Channel 7 news why the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority’s plan to build roads through Bush Forever Sites 308 and 310 is bad for the environment, bad for tourism, and bad for Scarborough.  Hear more of 1980’s ‘planning thought bubbles’ from the MRA – not the right people to be making planning decisions!

Channel 7 160417 still - Beach Fight

Link to YouTube video

What about Natural Heritage?

Our comments have been submitted to the MRA, following the open period for comments on the December 2015 Draft Redevelopment Scheme, Design Guidelines and Heritage Inventory, and are reproduced below:

Our comments relate to land use within the Scarborough Redevelopment site generally and specifically the northern boundary of the site and the impact of any proposed developments on the South Trigg Beach Class A Coastal Reserve and Bush Forever Area 308.

The portion of the South Trigg Beach coastal dune reserve that is within the Scarborough Beach Redevelopment site must be protected and its importance as a conservation reserve of regional significance recognised when land use, new structures or alterations to existing structures are being considered.

We note the absence of a requirement for development proposals to take account of the natural heritage of the Scarborough Beach site. We note that the built heritage is recognised as critical to maintaining the character of Scarborough Beach and that links to its past through existing buildings and other structures are included in the MRA’s Heritage Inventory for the site.

The natural heritage of the site is equally or more important to the long term preservation of a healthy Scarborough Beach and should be included in the Heritage Inventory. We assume that it is not too late to correct this oversight. The value of the natural heritage and the adjacent significant South Trigg Beach Coastal Reserve to visitors and tourists has also been overlooked in the draft documents. Professor Paul E Hardisty has advised our group that “…studies worldwide show …beach users prefer unspoiled beach to spoiled beach…”.

This is not a revelation and WA’s natural environment is a feature of most advertising and promotional events carried out by Tourism WA.  Scarborough Beach’s natural environment, the coastal dune system and the beach is its greatest asset and should be a major consideration in any development proposal.

Although Scarborough Beach has had resort style developments over time, the MRA has a unique opportunity to protect and enhance existing natural areas, thereby make the site cater for tourists and locals alike.

The South Trigg Beach coastal reserve serves an important ‘value add’ eco-tourism function as evidenced by the Scarborough-Trigg Heritage Walk which was a Centenary of Federation project in 2001. This project was funded by the Commonwealth Government with in-kind contributions from Nyungah elders, the Friends of Trigg Bushland, Scarborough Beach Rotary Club, Jobs West and the City of Stirling. A copy of the brochure that was produced for the Heritage Walk is attached. We note this existing Heritage Walk has not been acknowledged in the MRA reports.

There is a vast potential for low-impact eco-tourism which would add a unique dimension to the ‘resort tourism’ already present in Scarborough. The pristine nature of the South Trigg Coastal Reserve and the rest of Bush Forever Site 308 coupled with a highly developed precinct like Scarborough is unknown in other parts of Perth. The natural vista and views over the coast dune system to the ocean and Trigg Beach is spectacular and presents an opportunity for visitors to Scarborough Beach to experience a sight that was once common along the metropolitan area coastline. This has the potential to add value to appropriate developments at Scarborough Beach.

We note that Development Policies include a “Conservation Management Plan” for “heritage place” there are however, no policies that we could find for a management plan for the natural environment heritage of the site.

The South Trigg Beach Reserve and other natural areas within the redevelopment site deserve inclusion in the Heritage Inventory, Development and Policies and Design Guidelines. A Conservation Management Plan must be developed including flora and fauna inventories, a requirement to use local coastal plants in new developments, and a commitment to the protection and enhancement of existing natural areas on the site.

The Vision and Scheme Objectives Chapter 2 states that the Scheme will be “…highly responsive to the site…including the natural environment, topography, neighbouring sites and streetscape…”. This is a commendable objective that needs to be more specific to the natural areas on and adjacent to the development site.

We note that in the Sustainability Outcomes that primacy is given to “public spaces”; “heritage conservation”; “reduced car use” and “environmental enhancement”. These outcomes are supported however, there is little evidence of environmental enhancement being made a priority in the MRA scheme.

2.3.6. “Environmental Integrity” states that “…protection of local ecology”, is a goal and that development should respond to the natural coastal environment of Scarborough Beach. There is a paucity of evidence of research into the impact of developments on the natural coastal environment. The impact of buildings and roads on wind direction, shade, sand movement etc is particularly important with the onset of climate change due to global warming, and the probability of changes in sea levels on the coast.

Attached is an extract from the City of Stirling’s Trigg Bushland Management Plan which includes the South Trigg Beach Reserve as Sector 6 and part of Bush Forever area 308. The maps are attached for your information.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Robyn Murphy
Friends of Trigg Beach

7 February 2016

Dune photo 200px