Shire of Dardanup votes against Wellington National Park expansion proposal

Two shires in the South West have discussed a new proposal to expand Wellington National Park. 

At its meeting on Wednesday, March 6, Shire of Dardanup council discussed the State Government's plan to add 7,360 hectares of land to the existing national park, from the current southern border to the Preston River. 

The change would increase the size of the park to about 25,000 hectares. 

Under the proposal, the park would connect to the Wellington Discovery Forest, the Westralia Conservation Park, and the Westralia Forest Conservation Area.

Representatives from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attractions and Forest Industries Federation presented to council on Wednesday, February 13. 

Council voted 5/3 against the proposal and the shire will provide a written response to the government.

Councillors at the Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup declined to take a position for or against the proposal because of what they considered to be insufficient information.

Shire of Dardanup president Mick Bennett said both the timber and tourism industries needed to be acknowledged. 

"Council is happy with the situation at the moment and doesn't see any advantage in locking up another 7,000+ hectares," he said. 

"More work should be put into the areas around the Wellington Dam site. It's a great spot and, fortunately, it's close enough to Collie for people to collect supplies etc."

A department spokesperson said expanding the park would improve tourism and recreational opportunities within the Preston Valley.

"It will also enhance the protection of biodiversity in a consolidated national park and improve connectivity to adjacent conservation reserves, while limiting the impact on timber harvesting, firewood collection and other extractive uses," they said. 

The proposal is open for public comment until Wednesday, March 13. 

This story Council against proposal first appeared on Bunbury Mail.