Developer eyes reserves

By Alesha Capone

A property developer wants to clear two Williams Landing conservation reserves and use the land for residential and commercial activities.

Galway Holdings, a subsidiary of Cedar Woods Properties, has submitted a proposal to the Department of Environment and Energy (DEE) seeking permission to “clear and develop” two of three conservation reserves adjacent to the Princes Freeway.

The reserves – located on the former RAAF Williams Laverton Airfield – were established by the Department of Defence to protect high-quality grassland remnants, wetland and rare and threatened species prior to the federal government selling the land in 1998.

The land was sold on the condition that the reserves be protected and maintained.

But Galway Holdings wants to clear and develop two of the reserves, one of 9.75 hectares and the other of 9.29 hectares.

The company has sought permission in a proposal listed on the DEE’s website for public comment. In addition, Galway Holdings would need to obtain permission from Wyndham council to clear the reserves.

A report commissioned by Cedar Woods said that overturning the reserves would “directly impact several significant flora and fauna species”, including the loss of habitat for the endangered striped legless lizard and golden sun moth, plus the vulnerable tussock skink.

Conservationist Liz Drury said she was “shocked” by the Galway Holdings proposal because the conservation reserves were set aside to compensate for “the huge biodiversity losses” from surrounding development.

“If this site gets cleared, this natural landscape loses out twice and the community loses its access to engage with the natural heritage of that area forever,” she said.

Wyndham city economy, innovation and liveability acting director Peter McKinnon said the council was yet to develop a formal position on the Galway Holdings proposal.

Cedar Woods state manager Lloyd Collins said: “The Department of Environment and Energy is assessing the application and Cedar Woods is confident that they’ll make an informed decision that is in the best long-term interest of the environment.”