Concern over unauthorised clearing

Rueben HaleThe West Australian
Conservationist Dr Eddy Wajon at cleared Wheatbelt road site.
Camera IconConservationist Dr Eddy Wajon at cleared Wheatbelt road site. Credit: Rueben Hale

A prominent WA flora and fauna expert has accused local government authorities of clearing regional roadside vegetation without permits.

Conservationist Eddy Wajon, a former president of the Wildflower Society of WA, said clearing of roadside native vegetation for widening, straightening, removal of crests and sight lines had been undertaken without applying for or obtaining the required clearing permit from the Department of Environment Regulation.

“These authorities relentlessly cleared valuable native vegetation within the Wheatbelt and South West over the past 10 or more years,” he said.

Dr Wajon said he had reported instances of roadside and other clearing that he suspected was not permitted in the Shire of Plantagenet, Woodanilling, Jerramungup, Gnowangerup and Pingrup.

“Some of my reports have so far been investigated by the DER and have been resolved,” he said.

“All of the owners or managers of these properties were found guilty of unlawful clearing, but not one of them was prosecuted.

“In one instance, an owner was ordered to remove the beef cattle grazing on the cleared land, and required to restore the cleared land by allowing it to re-vegetate naturally.

“In other instances, the authorities concerned were told to apply for a permit in future, but there were no penalties or requirements to rectify the damage.”

Conservationist Dr Eddy Wajon at a cleared Wheatbelt road site.
Camera IconConservationist Dr Eddy Wajon at a cleared Wheatbelt road site. Credit: Rueben Hale

But a DER spokeswoman said there were exemptions under the Environmental Protection Act for the clearing of native vegetation for road maintenance activities.

“DER completed one investigation into unauthorised clearing of native vegetation by the Shire of Plantagenet and determined it was exempt from requiring a clearing permit,” she said.

The DER also completed two investigations into unauthorised clearing of native vegetation by the Shire of Jerramungup that the spokeswoman said were conducted within road reserves for the purpose of road maintenance.

“DER concluded the clearing had exceeded the above-mentioned Environmental Protection Act exemption and wrote to the Shire to remind it of its Environmental Protection Act obligations,” she said.

“The Shire has since submitted five clearing permit applications where it intends to clear native vegetation for road maintenance activities beyond that available as an exemption.

“The department completed two investigations into unauthorised clearing of native vegetation by the Shire of Kent, conducted in road reserves for the purpose of road maintenance.

“DER concluded the clearing was predominantly exempt from requiring a clearing permit.”

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