Augusta-Margaret River Times

Protest group Preserve Gnarabup is calling on residents opposed to a five-star resort development on the coast to rally tomorrow.

The gathering from midday at Reuther Park will look to harness the activism which led to residents in their hundreds marching early last decade when the project, under previous developers, led to a failed Supreme Court bid. Although the development and its associated tourism and residential components languished in the years since, developer Luke Saraceni says the Westin Margaret River Spa & Resort is now full steam ahead.

Preserve Gnarabup has also lodged a scheme amendment seeking to overturn the site’s tourism zoning which could trigger council action to acquire the contentious lots, as the Times reported last week. Protest spokeswoman Beth Carlessi urged past and present activists to gather “in a show of solidarity”.

“We would love to see the community come together to protect what makes this area so unique – our raw and pristine coastline,” she said.

“We think it is very important for the community to band together on this as we feel like this development will change the ‘sense of place’ here for the community, and cause irreversible damage to the fragile ecosystem and the Aboriginal heritage site located on one of the lots.”

Ms Carlessi said the resort was just the start of the proposal, as the Times reported last month with four more blocks slated for mixed-use apartments and tourist villas.

Tomorrow’s rally would also be a chance for more residents to learn about the long history fighting the proposal – plus a chance to network and discuss other concerns around the development such as bushfire safety, waste disposal, the effects on native flora and fauna, and the views of traditional owners.

Past campaigner and former Shire councillor Lyn Serventy has advised the protest group during their new fight.

“Our community, State and nation now face the loss of the acknowledged visual attraction that this site has in its undeveloped beauty,” she said.