Taking the pledge to preserve Gnarabup coastline

Worldwide response: Donors from around the globe have pledged more than $20,000 in the first 24 hours of the Preserve Gnarabup campaign being launched online. Photo: Lauren Trickett
Worldwide response: Donors from around the globe have pledged more than $20,000 in the first 24 hours of the Preserve Gnarabup campaign being launched online. Photo: Lauren Trickett

People throughout the world pledged almost $20,000 in the first 24 hours of a campaign to raise funds to contribute towards the cost of stopping development on the Gnarabup Hedland.

Preserve Gnarabup group spokesperson Astrid Serventy said the pledge total had reached $42,000 within the first weekend.

Preserve Gnarabup launched a campaign calling for pledges from the community to help fund either the reservation of land or a buy-back of land on Gnarabup headland, where a housing estate and five-star resort is proposed.

The group said their campaign was aimed at halting a plan by property developer Luke Saraceni and his firm Saracen Properties to turn five lots of coastal land purchased for $5.5 million into a resort and housing estate overlooking Margaret River's most popular swimming beach.

Spokesperson Beth Carlessi said the group had applied to the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to either amend its Local Planning Scheme to reserve the lots as "Parks and Recreation" so that they cannot be developed or to compulsorily acquire the land for foreshore reserve.

"People who love Gnarabup as it is always ask us what they can do to prevent the headland being developed," she said.

"Here is an opportunity for you to do something really powerful.

"We are asking Margaret River region residents, other West Australians and anyone who has visited the region from around the world to pledge a financial contribution towards the cost that the Council will incur if it reserves the land or compulsorily acquires it.

"Anyone who pledges money will only have to pay the amount they pledge if the bid is successful and Council accepts the community contribution."

"We are well on our way towards our target of $100,000 in pledges in the next four weeks, which would be a major contribution and encourage Shire Councillors to support the proposal when they consider our application on December 9.

"If we reach $100,000 we will keep going. This community loves Gnarabup, as do people around the world. They all want to make a contribution to stopping development and saved the headland from bulldozers."

"If the Shire reserves or compulsorily acquires the land, it will have to compensate Saracen Properties. Our legal advice is that will cost approximately $5.5million and, while that's a large sum, we think this price is worth it to save Gnarabup."

The group said the City of Busselton recently made a similar move, reserving large sections of coastal land on Geographe Bay impacted by rising sea levels or will be in the future.

"We're calling on people who love Gnarabup as it is - locals, West Australians and anyone who has enjoyed time and has special memories of Gnarabup," Ms Carlessi said.

"Let's put our money where our mouth is and make a pledge to keep Gnarabup natural. No amount is too small or too large.

Our legal advice is that will cost approximately $5.5million and, while that's a large sum, we think this price is worth it to save Gnarabup... if we could get a little assistance from everyone who loves Gnarabup, we would like to far exceed our first $100,00 target.

Beth Carlessi, Preserve Gnarabup

"We all have different means, please only commit what you can afford. All money pledged by the community via this campaign will be offered to the Shire to help pay for compensation or the purchase price of the land.

"Ultimately - if we could get a little assistance from everyone who loves Gnarabup - we would like to far exceed our first $100,00 target, and therefore will be increasing the target as we reach each milestone.

"Additional targets will depend on the momentum of the pledge as well as any feedback we receive from the Shire."

Wine for Dudes owner operator John O'Connor said tourists are amazed at the raw beauty of the area.

"My understanding, values, opinions and beliefs, have been formed by meeting many thousands of tourists, local and transient humans over the last 20 years," he said.

"The unique sense of place of Margaret River and the South West is being lost in much the same way that has already happened in many parts of Australia.

While Margaret River has often referred to as 'quot;The Byron Bay of Western Australia', this should be seen as a huge warning of overdevelopment ruining the essence and fabric of a once special place.

"Why would we allow a 5 star resort where profits go overseas, or any further coastal development yet crush families requests to operate BnBs in order to supplement low incomes in the South West?

"We do not have the infrastructure or staff to grow, accommodation levels are currently highly occupied, wineries and breweries are currently booked out on weekends.

"Are local governments hands currently tied so that already rich developers can make multi million dollar profits for what? Surely they can already feed their families, so why ruin ours?"

The Shire of Augusta Margaret River did not respond in time for publication.

Find Out More

Go to www.pozible.com/profile/preserve-gnarabup to make a pledge of any amount with a credit card. If you want to pledge but not via credit card, email admin@preservegnarabup.org.au and pledges will be acknowledged and recorded.

All pledges paid are tax-deductible and you will receive a tax receipt. Preserve Gnarabup has partnered with Conservation Council WA to hold the funds in a trust account. Those who pledge can remain anonymous or have their pledge appear on the website.