WRAP - No prison in Westbury

Westbury residents protest over construction of Northern Regional Prison at Brushy Rivulet

By Rosemary Murphy
The Mercury
29 June 2021

Members of the Westbury Region Against the Prison group at the proposed site where geotechnical drilling has began. Picture: Westbury Region Against the Prison.

Westbury residents have protested against the construction of the Northern Regional Prison as drilling commenced at the site on Monday.

Local residents expressed their concern as the Northern Regional Prison in Westbury progressed a step further.

Drilling to enable soil and rock core testing commenced on Monday as part of due diligence on the site.

Corrections Minister Elise Archer said it follows on from earlier geotechnical drilling work undertaken in October last year and will continue to progress over the coming week.

Linda Poulton was on site with other members of the Westbury Residents Against the Prison group on Monday, which was formed in opposition to the initial site chosen for the prison. She said there were concerns about the damage caused to threatened flora on the new site and the process taken by the government to select it.

"The land was purchased in 1999 because it was a special kind of forest, on a particular type of soil that encourages all the threatened tiny little plants that are really threatened and blue pincushion is probably the most important of those.

"This site was never meant to be just left to be used by the government in whatever way they saw fit it was purchased to be protected," she said.

"DoJ has developed an Environment Management Plan to guide the drilling process, and a works authority has been obtained to ensure sensitive natural values identified on the site are appropriately managed," Ms Archer said.

"The vehicles are a lot larger than we say should even be on her in the first place, where they've gone with the drilling rig on top of the reserve is absolutely covered in threatened, tiny little orchids," Ms Poulton said.

The new site for the prison is on crown land at Brushy Rivulet on Birralee Rd outside Westbury.

Aaron Reader's property neighbours the site for the proposed for the prison and is part of the Residents Opposed to the Westbury Prison Site group formed with other neighbours opposed to the development.

He said there were issues with biosecurity, noise, light pollution, and whether the road would be able to sustain increased traffic.

"We're not against a northern prison, but this is not the site for it."

"There's not the services, there's no power, no water, and we don't believe it's the right site," he said.

Mr Reader said his property is behind the proposed site for the jail and said there were safety

concerns and also concerns about the impact lockdowns.

"I work on farm and have another job, if something happens can I get home, how do I deal with the livestock?

"We are currently calving and they have to be tended two to three times a day," he said.

The state government has said the Northern Regional Prison will create more than 1,000 jobs and deliver an economic boost of $500 million to the region.

Westbury prison proposed site where geotechnical drilling has began. Picture: Westbury Region Against the Prison.

 

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