Sea wrack removal ‘one-off’

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Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times

The Department of Transport has shut down suggestions to change the management plan for Port Geographe’s sea wrack build-up, despite residents calling for “trigger levels” to be lowered and provisions allowing the City of Busselton to intervene sooner.

About 150 residents descended on the council last week, asking the City to step in, as reported by the Times.

Despite the City conceding its hands were tied because the department was the managing authority, the following day Busselton Mayor Grant Henley confirmed the department would permit the City to proceed with “limited remediation on the beach on the basis of public safety concerns”. However, City chief executive Mike Archer told the Times any future work remained “incumbent on the managing authority” and the remediation works were very much a “one-off”.

The Times queried the department on whether the Environmental Monitoring and Management Program could be changed, but was told the department was “satisfied” with current thresholds and undertaking work outside of the EMMP guidelines and below the trigger levels “would involve expense that is not within DoT’s approved decision making framework”.

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Resident representative Peter Maccora said the City had been put in a “difficult position” by the department, and the EMMP should be amended to allow the City to step in without explicit permission to prevent a similarly rushed response.

“The City should work on behalf of residents, but they have to be careful with the work they undertake because if seagrass was to get into the marina, for example, they’d be held liable,” he said.

Mr Maccora said the trigger levels dictating when the department would step in were too high and the suggestions made during the community consultation period should have been considered.

Trigger levels are currently set at 60,000cum and the department estimates seagrass levels on the western beach at 16,000cum.

However, Vasse MLA Libby Mettam last week said an independent earthmover’s estimate was more than double the department’s.

Despite the disparity, residents have repeatedly flagged health and safety concerns with the Times.

Mr Maccora said 60,000cum was very high and it “would be four times what’s currently sitting on that beach if we’re to believe the measurements given to us by the department”.

The department’s $28.15 million dollar beach reconfiguration in 2015 was expected to lessen the build-up, but the Times understands it might be years before the benefits are felt.

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