“The Peel-Harvey Catchment Council are thrilled with the State Administrative Tribunal’s ruling to uphold the Shire of Murray’s refusal of the Point Grey Marina” said PHCC Chair Caroline Knight.

The decision is the right one and it has restored a lot of people’s faith that we can have a voice in the protection of our Estuary, and sometimes sense prevails and we get a win.  As a community we rely on planning authorities to ensure that our valued environment is protected and that development is respectful to this.  The Tribunal’s determination that the proposed development was not consistent with ‘orderly and proper planning’, speaks volumes.

We congratulate the Shire of Murray for their courage in standing their ground and refusing this proposed first stage development application.  We were pleased to have our Program Manager for Science and Waterways, Dr Steve Fisher, as an expert witness for the Shire at the Tribunal hearing. 

The SAT’s ruling vindicates the Shire’s decision and the work of many, many community members and organisations that rallied behind them to try to bring some sense to this very long process” Ms Knight said

Our waterways are our greatest asset and the economic base of our community, we simply must protect it.

While the SAT decision is welcomed, we need to understand that this doesn’t make this proposal go away all together.  The proponent may appeal the decision to a higher court, and they may resubmit an application for the marina and channel.

The PHCC will continue to advocate with all levels of government towards a more permanent protection.  

In late November the results of the Australian Research Council Linkage Project Balancing estuarine and societal health in a changing environment, will be released.  This research project, led by Murdoch University and University of Western Australia will fill some current knowledge gaps regarding the ecological health of the estuary and the PHCC hope that this new information will provide enough evidence that, had this information been available at the time of the original application, it would not have been approved. If this can be established, the Commonwealth Government has the ability to suspend the existing overarching approval under the EPBC Act.

We will also work closely with the State Government. We believe there are options for the Western Australian Planning Commission and several State Government Departments to stop the marina and channel.  We do not agree with the previous EPA recommendation that determined there was no decline in health of the Estuary or new information pertinent to its management. We do not believe the required management plans can ever meet their objectives, particularly to meet Commonwealth Conditions to not dispose of maintenance dredge spoil within the Estuary, and still achieve approval for the required Marina Management Monitoring Plan to ensure “…that the operation of the proposal does not cause an unacceptable decline in estuary water and sediment quality..”.  If this can’t be achieved, the plan should never be approved, and future applications for the Channel would be fruitless because it can’t proceed. 

This has been a very long process for all involved, the community have been fighting for the protection of our Estuary from this channel and marina proposal for nearly a decade.  We need this to be put to bed forever – you cannot build a channel across this Internationally Listed (Ramsar) wetland and not impact on its health, and thus the lives and livelihoods of its community and visitors.  It is not wise use, and this chapter needs to close so that the focus can be on restoring the Estuary health from the existing legacy issues that are still contributing more than twice the nutrients than the system can deal with.

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present