Long-awaited work to expand the network of trails in Albany’s Mounts precinct is one step closer to being put out to tender after one of the final hurdles holding up progress was cleared. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation granted a clearing permit for up 3.16ha of native vegetation on Thursday. The clearing will allow the City of Albany to create an extra 13.3km of trails in the Albany Heritage Park, more than doubling the existing network of walking, mountain biking and dual-use trails in the park. Acting chief executive Paul Camins said the city was looking forward to moving ahead with the trails project. “This permit has been several years in the making, with a considerable history of specialist assessments informing the revision of the trails’ footprint and then subsequently amending detailed sections further to reduce impacts on environmental values,” he said. The work will expand the network of trails in the park to 23km. It will include an extra 3.4km of walk trails, 5.1km of easy mountain bike trails and 3.9km of intermediate mountain bike trails, along with a further 950m of dual-use sealed trail. Mr Camins said the trails project would rationalise the existing network to provide enhanced experiences, make it more attractive and address conflict between pedestrian and cyclist use “which has been a request of the community for several years”. “This will be through closure and revegetation of roughly 1ha of existing unsanctioned trails, combined with the creation of a trails network from existing trails and pathways augmented by new trails constructed to best-practice standards,” he said. “The clearing permit is also offset by a rehabilitation and conservation package to take place within Albany Heritage Park.” Details of the approval are laid out in a 19-page document and a 77-page report expands on the reasoning for the decision. The decision by DWER comes almost three years after an initial application for the permit was made by the city in January 2021. The initial 2021 proposal from the city for the trails, known collectively as AHP Link Trails V2, was revised last year to require less clearing. During the 2021 State election campaign, Labor promised $3.2 million to develop the trails and has carried over the funding in subsequent State Budgets. There is now a three-week period in which appeals against the permit can be submitted to the Office of the Appeals Convenor. Pending any appeals, the permit will allow clearing work to commence from January 29, but the City will have to put the work out for tender beforehand. Mr Camins said the trails would be constructed to best standard to “minimise erosion and impact on surrounding vegetation”. “This will include appropriate surfacing and features such as balustrades where necessary,” he said.