Shooting club proposal comes under fire from Ludlow residents

Ludlow residents have expressed their dismay about a potential clay target shooting club premise that is proposed on land adjacent to the Coolilup State Forest.

The development application is for Lot 500 and 501 Coolilup Road and was submitted by the Busselton and Bunbury Clay Target Clubs.

The clubs are currently in negotiations to amalgamate and establish one entity, the South West Clay Target Club Inc, that will own and operate the range. 

Residents Janet Wells and Rhys Hitching addressed the City of Busselton council on October 3 with their concerns about the impact on flora and fauna, possible lead contamination, increased bushfire risks and noise.

Ms Wells posed a series of questions to the council, including an appeal to extend to the public consultation period and the veracity of environmental survey, prepared by the South West Clay Target Club Inc. 

In the survey, the fauna habitat was assessed as degraded or highly degraded with only four trees found to have potential nesting hollows for black cockatoos.

A nocturnal survey identified that common brushtail possums used three of the four hollows. No evidence of western ringtail possums was found during the survey. 

Ms Wells said an independent environmental survey was essential.

“It is inconceivable that there are no western ringtail possums. White tailed and red-tailed black cockatoos favour the area to feed,” she said.

“There are numerous very large healthy Nuystia floribunda trees, some of the finest specimens in the district. Also hugely tall old banksias, holly leaf banksia, jarrah, marri and native blue gum, and numerous wildflowers.

“We cannot risk losing the Nuytsia floribunda by ground disturbance and or removal of potential host trees.”

Ms Wells said it was a significantly rich and environmentally important area of natural habitat which needed to be retained.

“Areas such as this are ever diminishing in this age of short-sighted human interference and indulgence,” she said.

“I believe it has future potential as an unspoiled natural habitat for both flora and fauna and, in time, will prove a popular attraction for Busselton and Capel and for visitors from further afield, possibly as a conservation park or sanctuary.”

She also highlighted her concerns about a master plan for the area to become a multi-discipline sporting and recreational shooting precinct.

“The site is unsuitable and the activity is environmentally damaging, furthermore the suggestion of developing a master plan in consultation with all shooting disciplines to include pistol, archery and bow hunters would indicate that clay target shooting is but the first step in the ultimate degradation of this beautiful piece of unspoiled land.”

Project coordinator for the proponent, Graeme Baesjou, addressed the concerns of the residents during the Community Access Session. 

He said there would be rejuvenation measures put in place and the site was already ‘degraded’ due to roaming cattle.

In regards to noise, Mr Baesjou said the sound fell below the decibel allowance and was the equivalent of half the noise of a residential lawn mower.

He said the risk of lead contamination would be minimal, a specialist company would be contracted to clear the lead annually, and the area would be constantly monitored.

The situation of the clubs amalgamating was initially sparked by a Department of Sport and Recreation commissioned study in 2010.

The study was initiated because a number of ballistics sports clubs had received notification their land leases would be terminated or that tenancy of current sites may not continue.

In March 2013, the Bunbury Clay Target range was closed by the City of Bunbury.

Bunbury club members now have to travel to the Collie, Edgehill or Busselton Clay Target Clubs for recreational and competition shooting.

Mr Baesjou said club membership had fallen by more than 50 per cent since the range was closed.

“The Busselton Clay Target Club faces a similar predicament,” he said.

“The club has been on a rolling three-months notice to move footing for the past four years and initiated action with the Bunbury club to locate an alternative site that provides long-term tenancy that will ensure that the future of both clubs is safe. 

He said the influx of shooters and families for competitions would provide a measurable economic benefit for the Busselton, Capel and Bunbury areas.

“Most importantly, the facility would satisfy the immediate need for a shooting complex with secure tenure for the Busselton and Bunbury Clay Target Clubs and provide an important enhancement to recreational infrastructure in the South West region,” he said.

“Permanent range facilities will provide a sporting environment that fosters the development of shooters, especially young shooters, to national and international standards.”

Mr Hitching’s house sits directly in the proposed premise’s line of fire, but not within possible shooting range.

He seconded Ms Wells comments and said he would be starting a petition against the proposal.

“I believe the attachments on the City of Busselton website about the environment survey by the South West Clay Target Club is heavily bias,” he said.

“It says approximately 100,000 shots will be shot each year.

“How would you like 100,000 rounds shot in the direction of your house?”

The development application is open for public comment until October 10.

Submissions can be made at yoursay.busselton.wa.gov.au.