Residents fight Gnarabup plan

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
About 150 protesters gathered at Rotary Park on Saturday morning as part of the Statewide #StopTheDamage movement.
Camera IconAbout 150 protesters gathered at Rotary Park on Saturday morning as part of the Statewide #StopTheDamage movement. Credit: Ray Swarts

Residents opposing plans for a resort and associated mixed housing development at Gnarabup joined a Statewide protest at the weekend.

About 150 Preserve Gnarabup supporters gathered at Rotary Park as part of the Stop The Damage campaign targeted at the WA Government and Premier Mark McGowan.

Grassroots environment groups across the South West took part.

In Margaret River, anti-logging protesters from the Nannas For Forests group also joined the Rotary Park gathering.

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Organiser Sasha Pol told the Times the campaign was to highlight the concerns of “ordinary West Australians who are trying to protect areas that make WA special”.

Mr McGowan has come in focus for his hand-picked support for developer Luke Saraceni’s planned Westin Margaret River Spa & Resort at Gnarabup.

“Preserve Gnarabup calls on Premier Mark McGowan and his Government to stop development at Gnarabup headland and protect Margaret River’s most valuable tourism and community asset,” Ms Pol said.

“Listen to the people, not the property developers seeking big profits.”

Ms Pol said Mr McGowan’s popularity during COVID-19 should not be a reason to ignore local environmental concerns.

As reported by the Times, the coastal heath at Gnarabup needed protection, and amenity, infrastructure, bushfire risks and Aboriginal heritage concerns were all cited by activists.

“The town beach and headland is already at capacity and should not be developed for expensive housing and a resort,” Ms Pol said.

“With the environmental understanding we have today, the increasing effects of climate change, and the enormous growth in the permanent population and tourists who use the Gnarabup Beach area every year, development on this small limestone headland is more inappropriate with every passing year.”

Saracen Properties project director Joel Saraceni confirmed the development application was on schedule for lodging with the State Assessment Panel next month, after a review by WA’s Government architects.

“We are confident there will be a strong level of community support once we’ve revealed the proposed design and everyone understands the effort and level of thought that has gone into making sure the design is sensitive to the environment and character of Gnarabup,” Mr Saraceni said.

Mr McGowan’s office was contacted for comment.

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