The chairman of WA’s Environmental Protection Authority has confirmed the Gnarabup resort site will be assessed at the highest level. Protest group Preserve Gnarabup claimed Monday’s announcement as a win, welcoming the review which will put the plans by developers Saracen Property Group through its paces. Protest spokeswoman Beth Carlessi said the top environmental issues for the site were coastal erosion, critically endangered species and extreme bushfire risk, highlighted by last week’s Calgardup bushfire and echoed by the Smiths Beach Action Group with its concerns in Yallingup. “We all know the environment at Gnarabup is fragile and vulnerable, and 1111 people and organisations made a submission stating that the proposed development should be assessed at the highest level,” Ms Carlessi said. “Every day, local people are seeing critically-endangered Western ringtail possums and Carnaby’s black cockatoos on the site. “The area is on a fragile coast that is being impacted by increasingly strong winter storms, a drying climate and rising sea levels. “It is also an area of ‘extreme bushfire risk’ as acknowledged by the State Government and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River.” Ms Carlessi said increasing the population in the area “would be extremely dangerous to human health”. “We have had a horrific reminder of the impact and danger of fire on this type of coastal heath environment over the past week,” she said. EPA chair Matthew Tonts said the Westin Margaret River Spa & Resort proposal was earmarked for an area of “high biodiversity”. “Detailed assessment is required to determine the extent of the proposal’s direct and indirect impacts, and how the environmental impacts could be managed,” he said. Resort project manager Joel Saraceni from Saracen Property Group confirmed the development plans were now lodged and the company welcomed being part of the EPA review. “The EPA review is part of the statutory approvals process for this development,” he said. “Whilst they’ve chosen the highest level of assessment, we welcome the process being public as every element of the design complies with all planning and environmental obligations that apply to the site.” Preserve Gnarabup believed compiling the required reports could take the developer 12 months.