Call to fast-track fence’s EPA approval

Zach RelphCountryman
Wild dogs are threatening livestock through most areas of WA, including Esperance.
Camera IconWild dogs are threatening livestock through most areas of WA, including Esperance. Credit: DAFWA

A Cascade sheep farmer says flocks will continue to be decimated by wild dogs during the “drawn-out process” to secure environmental approval for the State Barrier Fence Esperance extension.

Scott Pickering, a sheep producer and grain grower, has made a compassionate plea for the Environmental Protection Authority’s report regarding the 660km extension to be fast-tracked.

The EPA report into the fence development’s impact on flora, fauna and heritage remains ongoing and set to be submitted to WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson by the year’s end.

Once the report is lodged, a two-week public appeal period against its content and recommendations will be open before the McGowan Government decides if it will proceed with the proposal.

However, Mr Pickering — WAFarmers Livestock council representative — said the process could cause the fence’s construction to be delayed for up to a year.

“The drawn-out process has delayed the building of the Esperance extension and looks to delay it for another 12 months,” he said.

“It is critical that the Esperance expansion fence is built as soon as possible to avoid further demise to the welfare of livestock within this very important and productive agricultural area of WA.”

The wild dog fence extension is set to extend the infrastructure from its end-point, east of Ravensthorpe, north to Salmon Gums and ending east of Esperance, near Cape Arid National Park.

A Department of Water and Environmental Regulation spokeswoman confirmed the fence’s environmental review was scheduled to be completed within the next three months.

“The EPA is currently assessing the environmental impacts of the proposal by way of a public environmental review process,” she said.

“At this stage the EPA expects to publish its assessment report for the Minister for Environment by the end of this year.”

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