Busselton Mail

A group of locals and supporters of a push against the recently announced Westin Margaret River development have vowed to do “everything within our power” to halt the planned 5 star resort.

Citing the region’s world renowned pristine coastal environment, organisers of the ‘Preserve Gnarabup’ group say they want to see the fragile ecosystem at Gnarabup protected and assisted rather than decimated by construction.
“Community support has been overwhelming,” said group spokesperson Beth Carlessi.

“There is much outrage and upset in the local community over this proposed development.

“Group members feel that the development of our wild and raw coastline goes against the wishes of many people in the community and the sense of place that community members feel here in the area.

“Group members feel that our living connections to Gnarabup and the inherent value of its ecology are far more important than outdated models of economic ‘progress’ and building up our pristine coastline.”

An online petition started by one of the protest group members has reached over 15,600 signatures since it was launched a little over a week ago, while the Facebook group “Preserve Gnarabup” attracted over 1,000 members in less than one week.

The 120 room Westin Margaret River Resort & Spa is slated to open in 2023, with developers hoping to break ground by the end of this year.

Plans show the hotel capped at two stories while the property would also feature three food and beverage outlets including a 200 seat restaurant, 400 square metres of event space and 45 luxury suites.

The group said members held concerns over the impact of the development on local fauna and flora, and the fragile limestone cliffs in the area.

“Last year Lonely Planet’ voted Margaret River the number one destination to visit in the Asia Pacific… we do NOT have a problem with lack of tourism.

“One of the reasons that people come to Margaret River is because of its untouched beauty and the non-built up coast.”

Other issues to be raised by the group include the possible loss of significant cultural and historical sites for local traditional land owners, the ability of the sewerage systems and current facilities within Gnarabup to handle more development and people in the area and the visual impact of the hotel and facilities.

Groups who frequent the spot for recreational use have spoken out against losing access to the beach and coastal areas, while some locals are concerned at the lack of community consultation and what they say is the “disempowerment” of local residents.

“There have been community members protesting against this kind of development on our coastline for decades.