Heritage Listing for the Kimberley

The Spectacular coast north of Broome1st September – Tony Burke, Minister for the Environment has announced the Heritage Listing for the Kimberley yesterday. Almost 20 million hectares of the West Kimberley will be heritage listed, but the area around the James Price Point gas processing hub has been excluded. The area to be placed on the National Heritage List includes the Kimberley coast from Cape Leveque in the west to Cambridge Gulf in the east, the Kimberley plateau and country south to the Oscar and Napier Ranges, and the Fitzroy River.

Mr Burke said the listing would not automatically prevent further development in the area, indicating that Woodside’s plans to build a $30 billion plant at James Prince Point, near Broome, would not be hindered but 130 million-year-old dinosaur footprints north of the site would have to be protected.

“It is important to recognise national heritage listing is about protecting our nation’s outstanding heritage values by considering them in any development proposal under national environmental law and the listing itself does not prevent development,” Mr Burke said.

“National heritage listing protects heritage values; it is not an automatic lock-up.” “The west Kimberley is one of the most magnificent parts of the continent and its placement on the National Heritage List will ensure it is protected for future generations.”

But Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA director Nicole Roocke said the “broad brush” approach to the Kimberley would have negative impacts on present, proposed, and future development in the region.

Wilderness Society, National Campaign Director, Lyndon Schneider said the heritage listing would be ineffective in protecting the Kimberley if Woodside’s proposed gas hub was going ahead. “Heritage listing for the Kimberley will be meaningless if James Price Point is approved,” he said.

“The direct impacts of that development will be significant, but the indirect impacts of this development will be catastrophic for the entire Kimberley and will destroy the social fabric and character of the Broome community. “Minister Burke will not be remembered for heritage listing the Kimberley if James Price Point proceeds. Rather he’ll be remembered as the Minister who handed the Kimberley over to industrialisation.”

Mr Schneider said the $30 billion development would occupy a 25 square-kilometre precinct and the port would require a breakwater of up to seven kilometres in length, a span 14-times the size of the Harbour Bridge. He said dredging would remove 21 tonnes of seabed, creating a 50 square km marine dead zone.

Further, the plant would pump 30 billion litres of effluent into the sea each year, wipe 120 hectares of remnant rainforest and suck up to eight billion litres of fresh water a year from the already parched landscape. He pointed out that the Kimberley coast was a nursery for the world’s largest population of Humpback whales and was also home to threatened species including Snubfin Dolphins, Dugongs, Saw Sharks and Sea Turtles.