Media Releases - 17 July 2019

Shanghai Zenith appeal 'Stop Work' notice At Yakka Munga in Kimberley

  • An area of land, equivalent to 60 times the size of Perth’s Optus Stadium, supposedly cleared without permit at Yakka Munga Pastoral Station by Shanghai Zenith
  • WA State Government lobbied by Conservation Groups in collaboration with local Traditional Custodians and a 'Stop Work' notice issued whilst investigations are continued
  • Department of Water and Environmental Regulation announces that this 'Stop Work' notice has been appealed by the proponent

The conservation community is deeply surprised today that the proponent, Shanghai Zenith, has taken this decision to appeal the Vegetation Conservation Notice issued to them on 20 June for their presumed illegal land clearing at Yakka Munga Pastoral Station.

Acting State Director for the Wilderness Society in Western Australia, Kit Sainsbury, commented: “The Kimberley is one of Australia’s last great areas of wilderness. But it’s under threat from big business looking to carve up land for its own profits. Deforestation remains a huge issue in Western Australia.

“The lease holder, Shanghai Zenith, has cleared a boundary track 24 kilometres long and 50 metres wide—equivalent to sixty times the size of Optus Stadium. The local Indigenous custodians alerted the WA Government and appealed for it to intervene and stop this clearing. Due to their efforts combined with advocacy from groups like the Wilderness Society, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has issued a stop-work order, whilst three government bodies investigate the clearing.

“It is therefore quite surprising that Shanghai Zenith has now appealed this Vegetation Conservation Notice. In government session, the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Alannah MacTiernan, said: “As far as we understand, this has occurred without any authorisation”. If the Minister responsible for the area believes this to be the case, then this appeal is surely an optimistic stab-in-the-dark.

“Protecting the Kimberley and supporting the Traditional Custodians of this Country is essential for the long-term future of the natural beauty of the Kimberley.

“We have contacted the Minister for the Environment to act if the investigations into this clearing show that it was done improperly and to authorise the strongest possible sanctions against Shanghai Zenith under his power through the Environment Protection Act.

“He has said that a fine of $1 million is possible against a corporate body. This must be laid down as a marker to this group that no more clearing beyond what it is permitted to do can occur.

"It is also essential that Shanghai Zenith are ordered to revegetate the damage it has done and take the necessary steps through the government to restore the health of this pristine area. 

“His actions will resonate and indicate how the McGowan Government views flagrant environmental destruction under Minister Dawson’s stewardship. 

“We ask him to be the Minister which protects the Kimberley, not the Minister which aided its destruction.

“The anguish seen on the faces of the Traditional Custodians in that area, due to the perceived injustice of deforestation without an appropriate given permit, showed how important Country is in the Kimberley and must remain well looked after—for us all.”

Statement from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

For further comment, contact Kit Sainsbury, Wilderness Society Western Australia State Director, on (08) 9420 7255.