River seaplane bid scrapped
A community fightback against a plan to land seaplanes on the Margaret River has been won before it even started.
Councillors this week were set to consider an early proposal from Swan River Seaplanes which wanted to fly tourists from Perth and land 12-seater planes on the river.
For the second time in recent months a proactive pushback from the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River planning department nipped the bid in the bud.
The Perth company failed to attend a briefing session on Wednesday.
Shire sustainable development director Dale Putland said he and manager Matt Cuthbert quietly recommended that the company consider using the Blackwood River or review its proposal.
Instead, Dr Putland said the company was eyeing flights to the Margaret River airstrip as an alternative and fuel storage could be a boon for future firefighting responses.
In light of significant concerns about the health of the Margaret River and a recently formed group to oversee a strategic protection plan, the proposal flew in the face of community sentiment. It follows a bid to relaunch mining proposals in the region earlier this year which was also withdrawn after Shire planners alerted councillors and a proactive defence was launched.
Dr Putland told councillors he offered “extremely strong advice” against the seaplanes idea.
Speaking before the failed meeting, Nature Conservation Margaret River Region chairman Boyd Wykes was cautious about the feasibility and appropriateness of the idea.
“The draft Lower Margaret Riv- er Foreshore Action Plan prepared by Nature Conservation for the Shire will help provide a sound basis for assessing proposals such as this,” he said.
“Without having seen the proposal, seaplane activity sounds to be at odds with the sensitive natural and cultural values of this small, relatively pristine estuary.
“Recreation is already being closely managed, with a ban on motorised water vessels and constraints on commercial tourist operations.”
The Times understands the proposal is now dead in the water.