Ningaloo win for stations

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Pastoralists had a win at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Paris last week when the committee moved to exclude pastoral land in its listing of the Ningaloo Reef area.

Initially the listing was to take in large tracts of pastoral land, which would have resulted in Quobba, Gnaraloo, Warroora, Cardabia and Ningaloo stations being affected. Under that plan, 75 per cent of the area earmarked for listing was pastoral land.

However, the new boundary for the listing will be 40m from the high water mark, which is the boundary pastoralists were calling for.

About 22,000 hectares of Ningaloo station would have been World Heritage listed under the initial proposal.

The station’s Phil Kendrick said the decision not to include pastoral land was a win for common sense.

Mr Kendrick said had the land been listed, pastoralists would have been unable to alter stocking rates, diversify or even sink bores without permission from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), which will oversee the listing.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) president Rob Gillam said the pastoral industry had been operating adjacent to Ningaloo Reef for more than 100 years and the committee’s decision was the right one.

“That marine area is pristine and the pastoral industry has now been recognised as not interfering with that, ” he said.

“This outcome gives pastoralists some surety for the future and people can now make investment decisions.”

But the fight isn’t over yet.

The listing doesn’t include the town of Exmouth, but Mr Kendrick said everything that happened in Exmouth, likely to impact on the heritage area would now need DEC approval.

He is concerned the ruling may potentially stifle development in the Exmouth Gulf and said the community would continue to look at the impact.

Mr Gillam said the PGA was still waiting for feedback from Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke as to the preferred boundary for the Kimberley National Heritage Listing.

The listing has the potential to take in several pastoral leases.

“If it is an area we think is ill-advised … then we will fight that right to the end, just as we did with the Ningaloo one, ” Mr Gillam said.

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