Media Releases - 29 August 2019

Yakka Munga Appeal Dismissed Whilst Investigations to Illegal Clearing Continue

  • The appeal by Zenith Australia on the Vegetation Conservation Notice has been predominantly dismissed 
  • The requirements of the stop work order remain in place whilst investigations continue into the presumed illegal clearing 
  • The decision made on this presumed illegal clearing in the Kimberley will be the marker for how the community views the WA Government on land clearing in Western Australia

The appeal against the Vegetation Conservation Notice, handed down by the WA Government in June following appeals by community against presumed illegal clearing on Yakka Munga Pastoral Station, has been overall dismissed. 

Acting State Director for The Wilderness Society in Western Australia, Kit Sainsbury, commented: “It is no surprise to see that the wider appeal has been dismissed by the Appeals Convenor on behalf of the Minister for Environment. 

 “The lease holder, Shanghai Zenith, had cleared a boundary track 24 kilometres long and 50 metres wide - equivalent to sixty times the size of Optus Stadium. This is a notable clearing which dismayed the local community and they rightly raised the alarm.

 “Taking into account Zenith’s submissions, together with the advice of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and the Appeals Convenor, the Minister was of the view that no valid exemption applies to the clearing, and that as no permit had been issued in respect to the clearing, there was (and is) a reasonable basis to suspect unlawful clearing had occurred on the land. As a result, the Minister adopted the Appeals Convenor’s recommendations accordingly. 

“Importantly, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the clearing and whether further enforcement and restoration measures are required. 

“Land clearing remains a huge issue in northern Australia and The Wilderness Society advocates for the strongest possible regulations to prevent illegal clearing. 

 “We are advocating for the WA Environment Minister, Stephen Dawson, to issue the harshest penalties under his power should the investigations conclude that the leaseholder acted without permit. Such an action would put the metaphorical marker in the red earth of the Kimberley to indicate to any leaseholders that regulations must be followed and will be punished accordingly if any discretions are noted. 

 “The WA Government’s actions on this matter will resonate across the community to show how they view land clearing in our state. To not provide a strong, punitive ruling at the end of this process will leave them open to scrutiny and potentially open up the back door to future environmental destruction.” 

MEDIA ALERT: The decision by the WA Appeals Convenor can be located here.

The petition being run by the Wilderness Society can be located here.

For further comment contact Kit Sainsbury, the Wilderness Society Western Australia State Director, on 0894207255.