WRAP - No prison in Westbury

New drilling date for prison site announced

By James Kitto
The Mercury
16 October 2020

Drilling works on the Northern Regional Prison site are set to begin on Monday, the state government has confirmed.

In an email sent on Friday to Westbury neighbours of the proposed prison site, the Department of Justice told of the commencement of a two-week geotechnical drilling period.

It comes just a week after drilling plans were halted following advice that federal environmental protections could apply at the site, and just a day after Parks and Environment Minister Roger Jaensch was quizzed in state parliament about what pre-drilling assessment works had been undertaken.

Westbury residents were told independent environmental checks were carried out, giving the drilling the green light.

"The additional reviews and assessments we have undertaken over the last few days with our independent environmental consultant and the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment have all been satisfactorily completed and indicate that the work can proceed," the email reads.

"Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) has also been advised of these assessments and that the works will now can proceed as planned.

Opposition parliamentarians, environmentalists and groups opposing the prison site have flagged the impact drilling works could have endangered wedge-tailed eagle populations.

Westbury Residents Against the Prison president Linda Poulton on Friday said the government's assessment of the site had lacked transparency.

"There has been a failure to identify who the government's environmental consultant is. I think if there was more transparency with this the community would feel more comfortable, but we've been given limited information about what they're going to go on and do," she said.

"This government policy of backflipping combined with secrecy is causing a lot of people stress."

Mr Jaensch this week told parliament it was up to the DoJ as the proponent to ensure it complies with any requirements relating to threatened species at the site.


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