Paddle-out to fight coast plan

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Preserve Gnarabup will co-ordinate a protest paddle-out tomorrow.
Camera IconPreserve Gnarabup will co-ordinate a protest paddle-out tomorrow. Credit: Warren Hately

Protest group Preserve Gnarabup is calling all surfers who support their campaign against development on the coast to paddle out tomorrow morning.

The local activists are rallying funds and support for a scheme amendment, to be considered by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council later this year, aimed at a potential buyback of land slated for a five-star resort and housing project.

The paddle-out starts from Gnarabup Beach tomorrow morning from 10am.

Group spokeswoman Beth Carlessi told the Times the paddle-out was the latest in a series of moves to highlight the protest campaign focused on “preservation of this fragile stretch of coastline”.

The paddle-out was open to anyone willing to take to the water, including stand-up paddle boarders and kayakers.

“We would love anyone who shares our values to attend and bring their families and friends along to support the cause,” Ms Carlessi said.

“Those who do not feel comfortable doing the paddle-out can support us from the beach.

“We would love to see people bring along some more of their incredible banners and signs that were so effective at the recent rally.”

The paddle-out would occur under the shadow of the proposed Saracen Properties development on the Gnarabup headland.

Saracen Properties is seeking approval to develop a Westin Margaret River Spa and Resort on the site overlooking the beach, with up to 80 mixed-use apartments as well as several commercial sites adjacent.

“Gnarabup Beach is where many community members congregate to swim, exercise and socialise,” Ms Carlessi said.

“Many of us learnt to swim in the bay where the paddle-out will be held.

“We hope to see a great turn-out so that we can send the message, loud and clear, that this precious strip of fragile coastline is not the appropriate place for development.”

Mr Saraceni has previously said he supported the right of all Australians to protest, but the proposed $5.5 million price tag to cancel his development — which would need ratepayer funding — was a serious underestimate of the commercial cost of the proposal and land value.

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