THE City of Cockburn says it was unaware that a plan to mine 300,000 tonnes of sand from a Bush Forever site in Banjup was due to go out for public consultation earlier this month.
The proposal, put forward by Hanson Australia (formerly Rocla Quarry Products), was to extract sand from a 9.5 hectare site on the corner of Warton Road and Jandakot Road over a three-year period and involved clearing 3.9 hectares of native vegetation.
In its Warton Road Mining Proposal, Hanson said the sand would be used primarily by concrete plants in Perth’s south and south-east.
The proposal was put out for public comment between August 12 and August 18 by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The EPA said feedback from this “initial stage” would be used to decide what level of assessment, if any, should be given to the proposal.
City of Cockburn planning and development director Daniel Arndt said the City had been informally advised of the plan in September 2015, but no formal discussions had taken place.
He said the City only became aware that the proposal was out for public consultation on day four of the comment period, forcing it to scramble to make a submission.
“The proposal has not been considered by the City via a normal planning application, nor were the City’s officers, elected members or members of the local community made aware of it,” Mr Arndt said.
Banjup Residents Group secretary Ian Thurston said one of the group’s members came across the notice by chance.
An EPA spokeswoman defended the process, saying its consultation hub and subscription service, through which it advertises referrals, had been effective in gaining public input in the past.
She said 39 submissions lodged during the consultation period were being considered, including those put forward by the City of Cockburn and local residents groups.
A decision on the level of assessment given is likely within the next month.
If the EPA decides not to assess the proposal, people will have 14 days to lodge an appeal with Environment Minister Albert Jacob.
Mr Arndt said the City expected to have been consulted before any application was lodged.
“It should be noted that while the subject property is crown land, the care, control and management of the land is the responsibility of the City,” he said.
“Hanson Australia has never formally applied for or sought the City’s support for the proposed sand extraction.”
A Hanson spokesman said the company was in talks with government organisations, including the City of Cockburn, about the proposal.
“Consultation will continue with all identified stakeholders if (or) when the project is approved, with restoration to occur in a timely manner,” he said.
Hanson has described its proposal to extract sand from the Banjup site as “a modest and short-term change to the environment”.
The company said it had to transport sand from Ellenbrook to sites south of the river because local sand resources had been exhausted and the extra travel for trucks added to pollution.
Having mined an adjacent Banjup site, Hanson was confident it could extract what it needed with minimal impact.
The company has also promised to restore Banksia woodland within the excavation area, including 5.6 hectares mined during the 1980s but left un-rehabilitated.
Hanson has said in a report that “there is little public interest in the environmental issues likely to be associated with the proposal”.
But Mr Arndt said there was significant concern due to potential impacts to bushland and the amenity of the area.
Conservation Council WA director Piers Verstegen said the proposal should be rejected by the EPA.
“Mining should never be allowed in a Bush Forever site,” he said.
Banjup Residents Group secretary Ian Thurston said residents had called on EPA to conduct a public environmental review and resolve to keep the Bush Forever site as it is.