Witchcliffe forest activists have been left without comfort after renewed calls to act on tree felling at a private subdivision off Redgate Road. The Friends of the Witchcliffe Forest spokesperson Caralynn Hoft appeared at last week’s Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council meeting alongside ornithologist and retired Nature Conservation Margaret River Region chair Boyd Wykes who sought reassurance the shire had “learnt lessons” from the project. Activists say they failed to halt the removal of 200 trees at the Witchcliffe Forest Estate despite claims from the developers, reported previously by the Times, an agreement with shire planners to change road design had saved 200 trees. Also of contention was what Ms Hoft said was a failure ever to produce a fauna report confirming three species of endangered cockatoos used trees on the site for nesting and habitat. Because of that “flawed assessment” back in 2007, evidence of cockatoos onsite didn’t flow through to the environmental management plan for the development – which changed owners during that period. While shire planning and regulatory services manager Matt Cuthbert disagreed “proper process wasn’t followed,” he said if the subdivision approval was sought today it was unlikely to pass muster. Attitudes had changed since earlier this century and he believed the site “should not be developed at all”. Dr Wykes asked for an undertaking for the shire to learn lessons from the process to avoid further harm to endangered bird species in future projects. He also asked the shire to “transparently report when mistakes may have been made”. He and noted botanist Jane Scott made submissions back in 2007 which never adequately featured in assessments of the project, Dr Wykes said. “How did we get to this point?” he asked. “Are there lessons to be learnt from the process the shire went through?” Mr Cuthbert said there was no point to enact a new fauna assessment at this stage because the project had all the necessary approvals in place. Ms Hoft said State and Federal environment bodies relied on those “blatantly inadequate” previous studies to green-light the project, despite the presence of species protected under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The meeting also heard Ms Hoft slam outgoing Shire president Paula Cristoffanini for her conduct during an earlier private conversation about correspondence from WA’s Environment Minister Reece Whitby. “You shouted at me and told me what I said the minister for the environment said was not correct,” Ms Hoft said. Cr Cristoffanini refuted that claim and offered any residents the chance to discuss the matter outside of the formal meeting. “I did not shout at you,” she said. Instead, she said she disagreed with Mr Hoft’s interpretation of the minister’s letter.