City of Cockburn opposes buffer zone plan

Russell and Carmela Lewis.   d446261
Russell and Carmela Lewis. d446261

THE City of Cockburn has formally objected to a draft plan for a controversial buffer zone proposed for the Western Trade Coast.

The State Government announced in October that it was looking to create a protection area around the WTC to resolve uncertainties for land owners and industry.

The WTC includes Latitude 32 in Wattleup, Henderson’s Australian Marine Complex, the Kwinana Industrial Area and Rockingham Industry Zone.

The protection area would cut through some suburbs on the outskirts of those areas, including Munster and Hammond Park, as well as Kwinana and Rockingham.

Proposed regulations would prevent new sensitive land uses – including urban developments, short-stay accommodation, hospitals, schools and childcare centres – from being built within the protection area.

In a report to councillors last Thursday, Cockburn’s strategic planning manager Andrew Trosic argued the current proposal lacked key information and did little for people already living within the proposed area.

“While the draft legislation is being presented to the community for comment prior to formal introduction to Parliament, this is being done in a very limited way,” he said.

“There is … an absence of detailed information which explains the technical basis of the buffer.

“The draft legislation also does not appear to contain any legislatively enshrined rights for landowners and residents to access documents, including technical studies, on which decisions are to be made in order to be able to make informed submissions on a buffer proposal.”

Mr Trosic added the city should go against backing the buffer because there was no independent scientific support for it.

He said the legislation was inconsistent with state planning and he believed mapping associated with the draft was not clear enough.

Councillors agreed with Mr Trosic, but also backed two modifications to his response put forward by Mayor Logan Howlett.

One of those modifications was for the council to seek “as a matter of urgency” a meeting with State Government authorities, including the Minster for Planning and the Department of State Development, to discuss its concerns.

But Kwinana Industries Council director Chris Oughton argued business opportunities were at risk if the legislation was watered down.

“The long-term outlook for industry within the Western Trade Coast is extremely positive, but it is important the boundary protecting the area is secure against poor planning decisions that allow residential developments inside the boundary,” he said.

The other modification was a request for the State Government to release the 2010 report, on which the legislation is based, so it can be reviewed.

The protection area plans were put out for public comment until last Friday.

A Department of State Development spokeswoman previously told the Gazette submissions would help determine the boundaries of the Protection Area and final list of prohibited land uses.

Legislation is expected to be introduced into State Parliament early next year.

‘No choice’ for residents.

Hammond Park’s Russell says his family will be left with an uncertain future if the protection area is imposed.

The barrier would slice through his family property where he has lived for 26 years, restricting considerably what they can do with their land in the future.

“It would take away our choice of what we can do with our land, which is something we’ve been setting up for more than two decades,” he said.

“This home is our superannuation.”

Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said residents should be able to develop their land as they wish, with council promising to keep up the fight against the draft legislation they were not warned about.