Work is likely to resume soon on the long-delayed Cape to Cape Track winter diversion project, despite the wishes of local Aboriginal elders. Elder Wayne Webb wrote to all Augusta-Margaret River Shire councillors this week to reiterate his disappointment at the project, designed to offer track walkers safe passage in winter. Central to the hold-up was the Shire’s acknowledged failure to seek Aboriginal Heritage permissions before construction started in 2016. Shire sustainable development and infrastructure director Nick Logan confirmed formal consent from the Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister on February 1 after the Section 18 application was lodged in October — four years after work started. In his letter, Mr Webb reiterated his opposition to the project and said a footbridge closer to the river mouth was the preferred solution. “The so-called winter diversion track was constructed without the agreement of the Wadandi people, on sacred land of profound significance to Wadandi people for countless generations, past, present and future,” he said. “The work occurred with no sensitivity to Wadandi wishes, on an unacceptable route which has done irreparable damage to the landform along the river. The recently obtained Section 18 permission has been acquired in order to overcome the fact that the law was broken when the track was constructed.” The diversion started as a grant-funded boardwalk proposed by former Shire chief executive Gary Evershed and supported by the Friends of the Cape to Cape Track. Ratepayers later funded a small land purchase at the crossing costing about $200,000 for a realignment to avoid building the boardwalk. Friends president Kevin Lange said the grant remained available for the “community trail” project, despite fears it would be lost due to past delays. Mr Logan said stakeholders in the diversion project would meet soon. “The Shire is aware there are divergent views on the construction of the track,” he said. “Purchase of the land was part of a council decision to complete the track and is being undertaken in a cautious and progressive manner following the progress of agreed steps between key stakeholders.” Shire president Ian Earl said he was aware Mr Webb opposed the Federal application but it had the support of the South West Boojarah working party. Mr Webb said the section 18 consultation did not consider the views of Wadandi noongars. “The ancestral spirits that live at this part of the precious river are outraged,” he said. “There will be no forgiveness for those who have caused it to happen. I am sad it has come to this. I can have no part of it.” A “low-profile footbridge” at a narrow section near the rivermouth was more practical and would cause less damage, Mr Webb said.