Push to change mining Bill in Perth Hills

Robin Chapple receives the first anti-mining petition from AHMAG President Brian Dale in August.
Robin Chapple receives the first anti-mining petition from AHMAG President Brian Dale in August.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting bauxite mining in the Perth Hills are rallying residents to lobby politicians in support of a Mining Act Amendment Bill introduced by MLC Robin Chapple.

The Greens Member for Mining and Pastoral Region said the amendment would give communities the power to reject mining proposals in their local government area through planning schemes.

“The purpose of this Bill is to address community concerns about the capacity of the Mining Act to override local or regional planning schemes, essentially handing power back to the people,” Mr Chapple said.

“Proposals to mine, and refine, bauxite in the Avon Hills area, and all along the Darling Scarp, have prompted me to bring this Bill forward.

“There has been massive community opposition to those proposals from residents in the Shires of Mundaring, Northam and Toodyay who believe – and I strongly agree – that to mine in the Perth Hills so close to the metropolitan area would be both socially and environmentally irresponsible.”

The amendment would expand the State’s power to exempt any land from mining, whether public land or privately owned.

Mr Chapple said other significant mining threats to communities across the state came from the “fledgling unconventional gas industry”.

“This Bill delivers to local communities, with the concurrence of the Minister for Planning, the power to reflect in their planning schemes what land uses they want without the Mining Act’s power of veto rendering such schemes merely advisory.”

Mr Chapple acknowledged an attempt in 2012 by former colleague Giz Watson MLC to pass a similar amendment to the Mining Act.

Avon and Hills Mining Awareness Group 9 (AHMAG) president Brian Dale said campaigners were delighted to hear Mr Chapple had tabled the Bill in the Legislative Council last Friday.

“The Bill itself is not an anti-mining or anti-fracking Bill,” Mr Dale said.

“It’s a Community Protection Bill to amend clause 120 of the Mining Act (1978), which is extremely outdated to say the least.”

Mr Dale said the amendment would enable Planning Minister John Day to have a real say on mining applications close to existing communities where mining would go against recommendations in Town Planning Schemes.

“Even though the Liberals and Nationals hold the balance of power in the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly, we’re optimistic the Bill can get through.”

Mr Dale said the Bill amendment required careful consideration on all sides of politics, with a Federal election next year and a state election around the corner in March 2017.

AHMAG plans to ramp up its campaign next year and urged residents to contact politicians.