Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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Political News

Wedge and Grey Shack Sites

Greens Statement

In 2011, the Environment and Public Affairs Committee of which Lynn is a member conducted a 12-month review into shack sites in Western Australia. A full copy of the Committee’s report is available here.

This issue is complex, particularly because the shacks are privately owned structures situated on public land. There are also issues of public amenity, health, heritage, damage to the environment, and risk.

Wedge and Grey used to be isolated coastal sites, but are far more accessible since the opening of Indian Ocean Drive between Lancelin and Cervantes. Many of the 450 shacks have been there for many years, but the shack owners have always known that the shacks could be removed at any time under the “Squatters Policy”. Still, not surprisingly, they want to hold on to this rare and beautiful escape from urban life.

However, there are a number of concerns about the occupation of the land by the shack owners. The exclusive use of public land by just a few is one issue. That the shacks don’t comply with building standards and requirements, including waste disposal, is another. Possible damage to Aboriginal heritage sites located at or near Wedge Island is a third concern.

There are also environmental and risk issues. There is not much information about the environmental impacts from shack sites on a vulnerable coastal area, [ABC News - 'Greens reject Minister's excuse'] and the risk to the shack communities posed by increased storminess and sea level rise.

Some argue that the social heritage value in this unique form of beachside living will be lost if the shacks are removed. The Environment and Public Affairs Committee agreed that this social heritage exists, but that this would continue if the shacks were to be replaced by low impact, nature based, and affordable family accommodation. This is its recommendation.

As Planning spokesperson for the Greens, Lynn believes that there should be constructive dialogue with all stakeholders, including the shack communities, to try and meet the objectives of sustainable land use, equitable access and application of relevant health and safety standards and building codes.

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