Barrow Island biodiversity not negotiable

April 24, 2003 - Greens (WA) MLC for the Mining and Pastoral Region has called on the State Government to forbid any further industrial expansion onto Barrow Island in the wake of the Federal Government's devastating new report into terrestrial biodiversity.

The 'Terrestrial Biodiversity Audit' has been embargoed until it is officially released by Commonwealth Environment Minister David Kemp, but it is understood that the report signals Australia risks mass extinction unless land clearing is radically curtailed, and strict new management regimes for fire, feral animal and weed control are given priority.

'Mainland Australia has suffered incredible damage from European industrial and agricultural land use practices,' Mr Chapple said. 'This lends added importance to large island ecosystems, which remain as biological Arks, free of introduced predators and invasive weeds. There are a number of such islands off the Australian coast, and Barrow Island is the jewel in the crown.'

'The WA Government has given Chevron Texaco a foot in the door to examine the feasibility of a massive gas plant at Barrow (the Gorgon project), instead of firmly upholding the importance of the island as a Class A Nature Reserve and asking Chevron Texaco to go somewhere else,' Mr Chapple said. 'They are potentially paving the way for a full scale expansion of the gas industry into an area of unparalleled importance.'

'No matter how well intentioned, the Gorgon partners will be unable to maintain the extreme quarantine requirements which demand that no so much as a single grass seed escapes onto the island for the entire time the plant is being built and is operating.'

'At some stage the State Government has to pause in its headlong rush to pave over the Pilbara, and perhaps this report is the wakeup call the Premier has been waiting for,' Mr Chapple said.

'I am hoping Barrow Island will not be a battle between the conservation movement and the Government,' Mr Chapple said, 'but we're ready for one if needs be.'

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