Link plan delayed to allow consultation

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
The Eastern Link concept plans.
Camera IconThe Eastern Link concept plans.

Busselton City Council unanimously voted this week to defer any progress on the Eastern Link for six months, regardless of whether the Department of Environment and Energy gives it the go-ahead in the meantime.

The move — spearheaded by Cr Rob Bennett and supported by all councillors — will allow for broader consultation and further investigations into all options and their costings.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Cr Bennett said it would “ensure whatever is endorsed has the strong support of the community”.

“When you have a respected former mayor and MPs (MLA Libby Mettam and MLC Steve Thomas) questioning the Eastern Link ... it raises the question ‘have we got it right?’,” he said.

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On Monday, WA’s Environmental Protection Authority decided the proposal did not require assessment.

And while there is a bilateral agreement between the State and Federal agencies that usually means the Federal Department of Environment and Energy takes the EPA’s lead, the department ruled the proposal to be a “controlled action” on March 25 and it will be assessed at a national level.

Its focus is understood to be on the western ringtail possum and the Carter’s freshwater mussel.

The announcement was welcome news to Busselton-Dunsborough Environment Centre acting convenor Alison Cassanet, who was disappointed the EPA had opted not to assess the project.

“While we are glad the number of peppermint trees to be removed has been reduced from 17 to seven, there is still uncertainty about the effectiveness of the measures proposed to protect the western ringtail possums,” she said.

“With both these rare and endangered species, the mitigations will be experimental, as the outcomes are not guaranteed by any means.”

The City’s consultation is expected to take the form of public forums, online surveys and other methods.

“This provides a good opportunity to engage further with the community on the Eastern Link project as well as other key elements of the Busselton Traffic Study, including the duplication of Causeway Road and the potential future development of Ford Road,” Mayor Grant Henley said.

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