Main Roads has confirmed it is investigating alternative alignments for the southern section of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road as part of the environmental approval process.
Main Roads spokesman Dean Roberts said the southern section corridor was established many years ago and had been in planning for a long time.
“The Southern section through Gelorup runs through native habitat for the Western Ringtail Possum, Black Cockatoos and includes Banksia Woodlands," he said.
“As of May 2018, the status of the Western Ringtail Possum was changed from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘critically endangered’ – the highest classification level possible before a species is declared extinct.”
Mr Roberts said as a result of the changed classification and other matters of environmental significance that the project affects, Main Roads was expected to undertake additional investigations to support the environmental referral process.
“Any environmental referral must demonstrate that there are not feasible alternatives with lesser environmental impact,” he said.
“During 2018 and 2019 we will work with all key stakeholders to discuss project issues and minimise potential impacts, including environmental, heritage – Indigenous and European, social and economic impacts.”
Shire of Capel councillor Michael Southwell shared details of a confidential meeting between Main Roads and the council about the potential alternative route via his Facebook page last week.
“I think the Main Roads team have handled this poorly and are treating the community, particularly the people in the Capel Shire with contempt,” he said.
“They are deliberately turning a deaf ear to any calls for reconsideration of the Southern section route and are determined to build it through Gelorup.
“Consideration of the alternative on environmental grounds must be genuine and thorough, not ‘designed to fail’ as I fear it has been so far.
“I think the Capel Council, as a significant stakeholder, should take a position on the issue of the southern section route.”
Details of the potential alternative will be released following Main Roads’ consultation with potentially directly affected landowners, which Mr Roberts described as a matter of priority.
Following that, the information will be released to the Community Reference Groups, established as part of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road project, and the wider community.
The next round of Community Reference Group meetings are scheduled for September.
For more information visit mainroads.wa.gov.au.