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Federal Court bid to stop Roe 8 work fails

AAP logoAAP 9/01/2017 Greg Roberts

Protesters and police are set to clash again after a Federal Court bid to stop work on Perth's controversial $450 million Roe 8 road project failed.

Federal Court Justice Antony Siopis rejected the Save Beeliar Wetlands group's application for an injunction, based on an argument that the government had failed to meet legal environmental obligations to provide an alternative habitat, or "offsets", for the endangered black cockatoo.

The WA government has bought land at two sites south of Mandurah that it will fund for at least 20 years as alternative homes for the species.

Opponents say the sites are inadequate and Greens MP Lynn MacLaren says a petroleum search permit exists over the area so it could be drilled.

There were multiple arrests in the lead-up to Christmas, some involving people chaining themselves to machinery at the Bibra Lake site in Perth's south, while a protest camp was set up and a concert featuring famous musicians was held.

About an hour after Monday's decision, 58-year-old Elizabeth Burrow locked herself to drilling equipment, saying it was to stop precious wetlands being destroyed.

WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob also quickly announced that work will resume on building the highway extension.

Justice Siopis disagreed with the group that the government needed to prove that it had suitable alternative land ready to house the cockatoos now and before any work could go ahead, although the wider case is still to be heard.

Roe 8 and the wider $1.9 billion Perth Freight Link road project is shaping as a major issue ahead of the March state election after WA Labor said last week it would cancel the contracts if elected.

The official purpose of the freight link is to better connect industry with Fremantle Port by road and improve safety by getting trucks out of the suburbs.

Conservation Council of WA director Piers Verstegen said the court loss showed that the nation's environment laws were "totally inadequate" and far too weak to protect it.

"The law is not up to the job of protecting the environment and we as a community need to make sure we're up to that job," he said.

Save Beeliar Wetlands convenor Kate Kelly says the group won't be going away, it's support is growing among the community and work should be stopped at least until the March 11 state election, given Labor would scrap it.

Mr Jacob says the project is governed by stringent environmental conditions, will deliver more than 3,000 direct and indirect jobs, take tens of thousands of trucks off suburban streets and improve road safety and traffic flow.

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