Clear­ing fears for Caves Rd ‘clar­i­fied’

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - War­ren Hately

Main Roads WA says pro­posed in­ves­ti­ga­tion of her­itage list­ing can take place within its planned con­sul­ta­tion process.

And the depart­ment has moved to quell fears about the ex­tent of planned clear­ing in the as-yet un­funded project for Caves Road, sub­ject to a Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River coun­cil res­o­lu­tion.

Last week, Cr Pauline McLeod won unan­i­mous sup­port to seek col­lab­o­ra­tion with the City of Bus­sel­ton to as­sess her­itage list­ing for the tourism drive, with the mo­tion also ask­ing MRWA to put the brakes on its com­mu­nity ref­er­ence group.

MRWA briefed lo­cal mem­bers last week say­ing “claims of clear­ing ar­eas of veg­e­ta­tion from 5-15m were with­out foun­da­tion”.

The 15m clear­ance was flagged in pre­vi­ous brief­ings, in­clud­ing Times in­quiries, which were not pre­vi­ously re­futed.

MRWA spokesman Dean Roberts said the agency wanted to re­tain the “ex­ist­ing aes­thet­ics of Caves Road in recog­ni­tion of its im­por­tance as a tourist route”.

Two ref­er­ence groups were planned to ad­dress the north­ern and south­ern sec­tions of the pro- ject from Yallingup to Rain­bow Caves Road in Mar­garet River.

The ref­er­ence group process would not be halted.

MRWA wanted com­mu­nity in­put on the plan, which oc­curs against a back­drop of strong lo­cal op­po­si­tion to any road widen­ing, and calls to fund a long-awaited round­about at Yallingup and re­duce speed lim­its in­stead.

“The key pur­pose of any work would be to pro­vide a sealed shoul­der to im­prove road user safety,” Mr Roberts said.

“The broad ob­jec­tive was al­ways to keep any clear­ing im­pacts to an ab­so­lute min­i­mum. Ad­di­tion­ally, no work will be un­der­taken un­til the com­mu­nity ref­er­ence groups have been con­sulted.”

MRWA would also con­sider ex­ist­ing speed lim­its as part of con­sul­ta­tion, with a new as­sess- ment “for the en­tire length of Caves Road” due in com­ing months.

“Main Roads be­lieves the CRG process can still be con­ducted par­al­lel with the de­ter­mi­na­tion of a her­itage-list­ing re­quest,” Mr Roberts said.

Bus­sel­ton Mayor Grant Henley said the City had no for­mal po­si­tion yet on the her­itage-list­ing pro­posal.

“I am con­fi­dent in stat­ing that coun­cil will al­ways seek to pre­serve the char­ac­ter of Caves Road while still en­abling sig­nif­i­cant is­sues im­pact­ing driver safety to be ad­dressed ap­pro­pri­ately,” he said.

“Of­fi­cers are sched­uled to present to coun­cil on the mat­ter soon.”

A re­cent Times Face­book poll showed 63 per cent of more than 150 re­spon­dents wanted speedlimit re­duc­tions.

Pic­ture: Therese Col­man

Caves Road tourist drive could be her­itage listed.

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