The Years 2015- 2017 Campaign in Review or “the local community being the last line of defence to protect our environment”

Beach not Bitumen’s campaign to stop the roads became more political in 2017 as the State Election drew close (11 March 2017).  It became clear that we had to put our support behind those MPs and candidates who were committed to stopping the roads.  

The Labor Party and the Greens assured us that the unnecessary and environmentally damaging roads would not proceed should they be elected.  The Liberal Government and local MPs continued to support the roads, “unless alternative options were available”, but made no attempt to explore alternative options.

Accordingly, we issued a “How to Vote” card to save the dunes and stop the roads putting Labor and the Greens first and the Liberals last. These went into thousands of letterboxes and were handed out on polling day.

The political wind blew in our direction and when the Labor Party was swept into power on 11 March 2017 it was only a matter of time before the Minister for Planning announced the roads would not got ahead.

On Friday 5 May 2017, the newly elected Minister for Planning Rita Saffioti MLA announced the MRA road proposal would not go ahead. She said that this decision was in line with pre-election commitments “…following widespread community concern about the planned roads encroaching on the environmentally sensitive dunes at Scarborough Beach.”

It began in 2014 –

The campaign to stop the roads began after the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (MRA) published plans to extend the Esplanade north and south of Scarborough Beach through Quindalup Bush Forever coastal dunes (308 and 310), as part of its major redevelopment of Scarborough Beach.  With at least $100m proposed to be spent by the State Government and the City of Stirling this development was and remains of obvious and intense interest to residents, ratepayers, beach users and taxpayers of WA.

Action to date:

  • Beach Not Bitumen to keep a “watching brief” until the foreshore development is completed to ensure the coastal dunes either side of Scarborough Beach remain protected and intact.
  • VICTORY for people power and the environment.
  • 5 May 2017 Minister for Planning Rita Saffioti MLA announces “Scarborough dunes protected from encroaching roads” .  She said “…Plans to build road extensions along the Scarborough beachfront are being scrapped by the McGowan Labor Government…decision in line with a commitment made before the election, following widespread community concern about the planned roads encroaching on the environmentally sensitive dunes at Scarborough Beach.”
  • 11 March 2017 Labor sweeps to power in the WA State Election.  Premier Mark McGowan.
  • As at 21 January 2017 there are no signs of the MRA or the State Government honouring the Minister for Planning’s commitment to the exploration of “alternate options” to the road extensions at Scarborough Beach, made in a media release on 17 November 2016.
  • On 24 December 2016 – BNB had collected:
    • 4745 signatures on a Petition to State Parliament,
    • 567 postcards which have been delivered to the Minister for Planning
    • 57 signed letters to Liza Harvey Member for Scarborough
    • 83 signed letters to Minister for Planning Donna Faragher.

We are still collecting signatures on our Petition which can be found on the BNB website.

2016

  • 21 December 2016 – Meeting with Liza Harvey MP for Scarborough at her office.  Ms Harvey repeated her previous position that she needs it to be formally established that the alternatives (many of which are included in our Fact Sheet and Q&A) can work before responsibly ruling out the roads.  We have not been given any assurances that Ms Harvey’s position in support of the roads has changed.
  • 20 December 2016 – BNB met on site with Lynn MacLaren MLC Greens, Alison Xemon and Judith Cullity Greens candidates; where assurances were given of Greens support for our campaign to stop the roads.
  • 17 November 2016 – on the same day as our petition is presented to Parliament, Minister Faragher issued a Media Release saying, alarmingly, that the Esplanade extensions would “…reduce congestion and increase amenity and accessibility of the foreshore…” and she said her Community Advisory Group is able to look at alternative options to the roads.  However, this is contrary to the Terms of Reference of the Community Advisory Group which was established to provide the Minister with feedback on the “design and planning” of the new roads.  No change to the Terms of Reference has occurred to date.
  • 17 November 2016 – A crowd of over 100 Supporters gathered at Parliament House to hand over a 3001 signature petition against the roads to Chris Tallentire Labor Shadow Minister for the Environment for presentation to Parliament.  Speakers on the steps of Parliament House included Piers Verstegen the Executive Director of the Conservation Council of WA, Anthony James spokesperson for Beach Not Bitumen and Chris Tallentire MP.  Liza Harvey MP for Scarborough also spoke to the crowd but conveyed incorrect information regarding road reserves and the role of the Minister’s Advisory Group.  Ms Harvey’s position in support of the roads becomes clearer.
  • 17 November 2016 – A photo is taken on the steps of Parliament House with the Opposition Leader Mark McGowan holding one of our signs.  Subsequent meetings with candidates for the Labor Party, Alannah McTiernan, Tony Walker and Caitlin Collins confirm the ALP’s position in support of our campaign and in opposition to the unnecessary and environmentally damaging new roads at Scarborough Beach.
  • 25 October 2016 – the Minister for Planning wrote to the City of Stirling requesting it hand over control of the Bush Forever land to the MRA for inclusion in its Master Plan Area, and advising that this should be done within 30 days of the date of her letter.  Council officers recommend this action be approved by the Councillors.  BNB supporters swung into action to lobby Councillors to refuse to hand over the Bush Forever land to the MRA for the road extensions.  The Councillors deferred their decision which was greeted with approval from over 120 BNB supporters attending in the public gallery. At the same meeting we asked multiple questions of Councillors regarding the City’s role in the planned roads and the proposal to transfer Bush Forever land currently managed by the City to the MRA.
  • BNB established a website https://beachnotbitumen.com/ and a Face book page https://www.facebook.com/beachnotbitumen/ including links to what the experts say about the environmental values of the sand dunes https://beachnotbitumen.com/ask-the-experts/.  We also have Fact Sheets on the road plans and viable alternatives with FAQ’s and an Environmental Fact Sheet.   The Fact Sheets and copies of our media releases can be found on the website, along with what the community can do to assist our campaign.
  • 22 October 2016 – BNB was officially launched at the site of the proposed Esplanade extension south of Scarborough Beach.  We had a small but enthusiastic crowd present and gained some media coverage.  Our campaign was now in full swing.
  • BNB commenced fund raising and engaged a marketing group to design campaign material.   Posters, placards, postcards, T shirts and a banner were designed and printed enabling us to set up an attractive and colourful stall at the Summer X Salt Markets at Brighton Beach every second Saturday morning from 22 October to 17 December 2016.  We also had a “pop up” stall at the Scarborough Primary School Twilight Market.  All of which attracted a massive amount of support for our campaign.
  • August 2016 – Invitations to the Ministers for Planning (Donna Faragher) and the Environment (Albert Jacobs) to meet with us at the site were declined.  Ms Faragher had recently established a Scarborough Redevelopment Community Advisory Group to “…provide her with feedback on the design and planning of the proposed road extensions…” and referred all correspondence to this group.  Mr Jacobs washed his hands of the environmental issues and simply referred us to Minister Faragher.
  • 5 July 2016 – Chris Tallentire MLA, Labor’s Shadow Minister for the Environment is the first MP to take up the joint campaigns invitation to meet at Scarborough Beach.  He was appalled that the State Government would even consider building roads through the protected sand dunes and called the idea “crazy”.  Chris Tallentire said the roads would cut off people’s access to the beach and at the same time destroy the ecology of the area.  He was particularly incensed when we pointed out that the public submissions had been ignored and that no alternative and more sustainable options to reduce the perceived traffic problems and improve public access to the beach had been considered by the MRA.
  • The MRA’s report to its own Board chose to downplay these concerns and subsequently NO changes were made to the final Master Plan regarding the Esplanade extensions.  The MRA ignored public concerns raised in the public consultation process and continues to do so.  Lack of transparency in the decision making processes undertaken by the MRA and the lack of respect for local environmental groups and community concerns are totally unacceptable.  
  • July 2016 – A FOI application to obtain documents from the MRA draft Master Plan “public consultation” subsequently revealed that 175 written submissions had been received (out of a total of 501) specifically about the Esplanade road extensions.  Of these 163 were strongly opposed to the roads expressing concern about the environmental impact on the sand dunes, abutting properties and the character of the beachfront.  The MRA’s response to the FOI request provided a summary of each submission.  These thoughtful submissions are worth reading and make clear there is a huge amount of opposition to the plan to replace sand dunes at Scarborough Beach with bitumen and cars.  These submissions were made at a time when there was very little public awareness about the planned new roads.
  • Representatives of three groups Friends of Trigg Beach, Friends of Trigg Bushland and Save our Sand Dunes began meeting on a regular basis to plan strategies for expanding our campaign.  We decided to form a new “umbrella” group called “Beach Not Bitumen” with a mandate to secure a commitment to rule out the roads from all major political parties before the State election in March 2017.  
  • May 2016 – When it became obvious the MRA and the State Government were determined that the Esplanade extensions would go ahead despite public opposition, a group of concerned residents and beach users in south Scarborough Beach set up a change.org petition and formed a new group called Save our Sand dunes (SOS).
  • 18 March 2016 – Friends of Trigg Beach and Friends of Trigg Bushland met with Liza Harvey Member for Scarborough to convey our concerns about the MRA’s plans and to seek her support for ruling out the roads.  Ms Harvey said she needed to be convinced the roads were not necessary to improve car access to the beach and reduce traffic congestion on West Coast Highway.  Although at this and subsequent meetings Ms Harvey has been prepared to listen, her position remains unchanged, with her concerns about traffic congestion trumping any concerns about the environment.
  • Publicity was sought and received through Channel 7, Channel 9, ABC Radio and the Stirling Times, in an effort to raise awareness and to inform the public of the MRA’s plans which were being pushed through “under the radar” (Channel 7).

2015

  • During 2015 the Friends of Trigg Beach and the Friends of Trigg Bushland continued to campaign to stop the road extensions and lobbied local Councillors, the MRA, the Minister for Planning, local MPs and worked to raise awareness among local residents and beach users of the MRA’s plans.
  • February 2015 – The Friends of Trigg Beach and Friends of Trigg Bushland made carefully researched submissions on the MRA Draft Scarborough Redevelopment Master Plan specifically regarding the devastating impact these new roads and car parks would have on the two locally and regionally significant Bush Forever coastal reserves.  
  • January 2015 – The MRA released a draft Scarborough Redevelopment Master Plan for public comment.  Although the coastal reserves north and south of Scarborough were not included in the Master Plan Area (as the Bush Forever land is vested in the City of Stirling for recreation and conservation purposes), the plan did include the Esplanade road extensions through the reserves.

In justifying its proposal for this environmental vandalism, the MRA falsely claimed that the sand dunes were degraded and “weed and rabbit infested” and downplayed the significance of the Bush Forever Areas.  The MRA’s consultant’s Level 1 flora and vegetation survey is the lowest level possible and is inadequate.  The Environmental Protection Act requires a Level 2 survey.  The MRA is cutting corners on its environmental assessment and then quoting it to justify destroying these important sand dunes. The survey virtually ignores the significance of the dunes as a habitat for reptiles, birds and other animals and the variety of landforms and topography that make up the Quindalup coastal dune system north and south of Scarborough Beach.

Prepared 23 January 2017