Bushland under siege
ENVIRONMENTALISTS claim Defence Housing Australia (DHA) could rip up land they restored if the SAS’s Seaward Village is demolished for civilian houses at Campbell Barracks in Swanbourne.
“We’ve seen concept drawings which show them digging down, creating stepped blocks so the houses don’t see over into the barracks,” Friends of Allen Park Bushland (FoAPB) member Lesley Shaw said.
DHA wants to demolish 154 defence homes in the 22ha village, use about half the south side for civilian housing and put 165 new soldiers’ homes on the remainder, placing civilians within 200m of the barracks.
FoAPB and Swanbourne Black Cockatoo Watch members said DHA drawings showed about 75m of Mellon Hill’s west slope and a bush strip to the coast, together covering about 1ha and which took 18 years to restore, could be dug into and flattened for civilians’ blocks.
Cockatoo Watch spokeswoman Anielka Briggs said ground levelling would destroy mature trees and parrot bushes, which made the village and its surrounding bush a refuge for threatened black cockatoos.
“The whole point is, like the SAS soldiers and their families, the birds like the village because it’s undisturbed and secure,” Mrs Briggs said.
She plans to ask Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to give the bush the highest Matter of National Environmental Significance protection.
The bush carers fear redevelopment, including trucks bringing weeds, will destroy thousands of hours of volunteer work and degrade the bush strip the National Heritage Trust declared a seed bank in 2001.
A DHA spokeswoman said it was asked by the Department of Defence to consider Melon Hill in concept planning and it was expected some excavation would be required.
She said DHA would work to keep existing trees and bush “wherever possible” and any bushland management plan would include weed control.