Anger over axing of green grants

Daniel MercerThe West Australian

Green groups have accused the Barnett Government of junking its environmental credentials amid claims it has axed a long-running grants scheme that funded hundreds of conservation projects.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob yesterday refused to be drawn on whether a decision had been made about the community conservation grants program totalling about $5 million in the Government’s first term.

The scheme had been a Liberal Party commitment but the Conservation Council claimed the Department of Parks and Wildlife had scrapped it as part of the push to find savings in today’s State Budget.

If true, the move to axe the program will come as a double whammy to groups involved in conservation after the Government confirmed last week it had shelved the WA Environment Awards.

Conservation Council of WA director Piers Verstegen said the Government appeared to be sacrificing the environment in its rush to slash spending but warned scrapping the grants scheme would backfire.

He said if it was not for the grants program some endangered species, including the western ground parrot, may have become extinct.

Heidi Hardisty, from Friends of Lake Claremont, said money from the scheme had allowed the group to help restore the wetlands system by planting trees and establishing paths.

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