The moderator of the Uniting Church WA, Rev Steve Francis, and the chairperson of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress WA, Rev Sealin Garlett, have written to the West Australian Premier urgently asking that the preparatory work on the ‘Roe 8’ site be stopped immediately.
In March 2016 the Social Justice Board of the Uniting Church Synod of WA wrote to your Environment and Transport Ministers about concerns regarding proposals to construct the Perth Freight Link known as ‘Roe 8’ though culturally and environmentally sensitive areas which include the Beeliar Wetlands.
We write again – this time to ask that preparatory work on the ‘Roe 8’ site be stopped immediately.
We reiterate with concern the comments previously made by Rev Sealin Garlett, Uniting Church minister at Coolbellup Uniting Church and Chair of the Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress (WA).
Rev Garlett says that the area is culturally significant for Nyungar people.
“As an Indigenous man, the old people told us the story of the importance of that place. Not only of that area as a camping ground, but it also was a birth place. Women would go to that area and give birth to their children; they would stay there until the children were weaned. And the reason for that is the abundance of food in the area. There’s work been done and houses there, but there are pockets of the land that are very important and need to be left alone.” (Taken from: https://revivemagazine.org.au/2016/02/04/standing-together-to-save-beeliar-wetlands/ )
We further note that the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) have also issued a statement saying that the Noongar community is steadfastly opposed to the Roe 8 extension adding that it will destroy some critically important heritage sites and adversely affect others (http://www.noongar.org.au/news-and-events.html).
In 2006 the Uniting Church Assembly adopted a very strong resolution entitled For the Sake of the Planet and All its People regarding the value of protecting creation (http://www.unitingjustice.org.au/environment/uca-statements/item/481-for-the-sake-of-the-planet-and-all-its-people). In this resolution we find these words:
“Since its inauguration the Uniting Church in Australia has been concerned about the continued existence of all creatures and plant life and believes that nature is not to be plundered and abused.”
We note that the 2003 Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report Bulletin 1088, highlights the ecological values of North Lake & Bibra Lake:
“the EPA concludes that any proposal for the construction of the alignment of Roe Highway Stage 8 through the Beeliar Regional Park would be extremely difficult to be made environmentally acceptable.”
“the EPA is of the opinion that the overall impacts of construction within the alignment, or any alignment through the Beeliar Regional Park in the vicinity of North Lake and Bibra Lake, would lead to the ecological values of the area as a whole being diminished in the long-term. Every effort should be made to avoid this…”
The North and Bibra Lakes are home to more than 220 plant species and 123 bird species including the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo and Peregrine falcon. It is used by migratory water birds such as greenshanks, dotterels, plovers and sandpipers, which are protected by International Governmental Agreements (JAMBA and CAMBA). The Australian Heritage Commission and the National Trust of Australia describe it as “possibly the least disturbed of all the remaining wetlands in the Perth metropolitan area.”
We are also concerned that the Supreme Court decided that the environmental approvals given to the Roe 8 project by the EPA were not in accord with its own policies. We note that there will be a further court case this week about the nature of the environmental approvals given.
We ask you to acknowledge that there are significant community concerns about this proposal. There will be an opportunity for your government to seek the community approval it needs for this project at the election due in March 2017. We therefore ask in the strongest possible terms that the plans to build Roe 8 in the face of strong community opposition not be proceeded with at this time.
To read more about the significance of the Beeliar Wetlands to Rev Sealin Garlett visit https://revivemagazine.org.au/2016/02/04/standing-together-to-save-beeliar-wetlands.
For more information on how you can get involved in this campaign visit http://www.rethinkthelink.com.au.
To read about the importance of wetlands in WA visit https://revivemagazine.org.au/2016/12/07/water-for-life.
Top image: Rev Sealin Garlett