Absurd Kimberley red tape is strangling station owners
Written on the 9 July 2017
You would need quite a few Gatorades in your backpack to walk across Nita Downs Station. At 210,000ha, the station south of Broome is the kind of place Europeans struggle to comprehend.
They were asked to complete a new flora and fauna survey, which they did. Six months later they got a response to their application and have since been living in bureaucratic purgatory somewhere between the DER and the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
The DER ordered the flora and fauna study to be conducted and sent in within 28 days. That's 7500ha investigated per day. As part of that process they had to tell DPAW what methodology would be used by their flora and fauna consultants. That guidance wasn't received within the 28- day window, so the Yes Minister pantomime continued.
You can't help thinking that the Forshaws' cattle will have died of old age before they get a feed, especially when you consider that if and when the clearing permit is granted, the station owners will have to get a water licence.
To get that they have to spend $100,000 sinking a bore, hoping blindly that it will be deemed suitable because there's no guidance on whether the bore will be approved before you sink it. You really are rolling the dice. Expensive dice.
Oh, and before they put in the bore they need approval from the local shire. The Forshaws aren't alone in their battle with bureaucracy.
Their neighbours at Wallal Station wanted to increase the amount of land under irrigation from 285ha to 600ha. That sounds like a lot but Wallal is 200,000ha, so the increase meant going from 0.1 per cent of land being watered to 0.3 per cent.
Staff at Wallal spent last July chasing bilbies around the property as part of their own flora and fauna study.
Bilbies accounted for, Wallal was also thrown into bureaucratic purgatory, with the DER advising that a hold-up with the licence to take water (issued by the Department of Water) was holding up the clearing permit (issued by the Department of Lands).
They got the increased licence to take water in February but the DER was still worried about those recently counted bilbies.
Thinking laterally, as station people are often forced to, Wallal suggested that the "Bilby Management Plan" being used on nearby Pardoo Station would be a suitable way to address the DER's worries.
Pardoo is 50km away, which in the Kimberley is the equivalent of being in your lounge room, so Wallal was confident a solution was found.
Apparently the bilbies on Wallal are different from the ones on Pardoo so a new plan was ordered.
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