Environmentalist concerned over new Bakers Hill fire station preferred location

The proposed site for the new Bakers Hill fire shed has created concern from a local environmental scientist who believes that if the site goes ahead it could have detrimental environmental effects. 

Bridgette Poulton, who is a Bakers Hill resident and has a masters in environmental science said she is concerned Shire of Northam officers will not evaluate all environmental factors thoroughly. 

The proposed site adjacent to the pipeline and BMX track off Yates Street was put forward by the Bakers Hill bushfire brigade, who decided extending the shed in its current location would not be viable due to parking issues and access to Great Eastern Highway. 

The brigade said the site was chosen due to it being already cleared, the group requiring minimal earth works and is deemed a safe entry access point onto the highway. 

The Shire of Northam council voted in favor of endorsing the construction at a council meeting on July 18. 

Ms Poulton said the proposed site is less than 10 metres from an inlet into the Clackline Brook which runs straight into the Avon River. 

 She said while carcinogenic firefighter foam is no longer used, all other contaminants from vehicles and training activities will run straight into the creek including weed seeds and spores, oils, detergents, hydrocarbons and extinguisher and any other residues from training activities.

“We want the town to have a new fire station but the extra costs associated with ground works and environmental issues, would probably result in significant delays in providing a suitable facility at the BMX track site next to Hooper Park,” Ms Pouton said.

She said funding for the fire station is for the new building only and does not cover ground works, which will be very expensive to do properly including bunding to prevent runoff and waste water storage.

Ms Pouton who lives near the site said the area gets very wet in winter and is vulnerable to flooding. 

Her concerns also cover native wildlife including the carnaby cockatoos and ringtails possums who inhabit trees at the site. 

She said a 20 metre buffer zone would have to be cleared around the site which includes these native habitats. 

Ms Poulton said there are other potential sites that would be cheaper to develop and produce less environmental harm that the site BMX track site.

The Shire of Northam chief executive officer Jason Whiteaker said consultation will be sought. 

“At this stage we have not commenced the planning approval process, which is required at this stage, and we have some internal processes to follow in terms of building envelopes and vegetation,” he said.

“It is envisaged that we would meet with landowners again.”