MANY Mandogalup residents are celebrating after the State Government announced it had moved to provide greater certainty for landowners with properties affected by a 1.5km buffer next to Alcoa’s Kwinana Residue Disposal Area (RDA).
State Cabinet has endorsed findings by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) that will allow for urban development on land to the north-east of the RDA, as it found negligible health and amenity impact from dust in this area.
“After more than 10 years of not knowing what the future holds for our families and our homes, at long last we have been given the certainty we deserve,” long-term resident Hubert de Haer said.
“The EPA’s findings from last year clarified what we have been fighting with water and air quality test results for years – there are no health issues.”
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said urban zoned land could accommodate residential and other land uses such as commercial, light industrial or other employment activities.
WA Planning Commission (WAPC) will now start preparing a draft improvement plan over rural land.
The purpose of the draft improvement plan is to further assess potential health and amenity impacts and to plan for future industrial use.
Planning for the area will become the responsibility of the WAPC, who will consult with local governments, industry and landowners in the development of a draft plan and scheme to guide future land use decisions for the area.
“We are finally being given some respect as landowners and citizens from the current Government,” landowner Reid Donald said.
“We want our property rights restored.”
Kwinana Industries Council director Chris Oughton said industry did not create the buffer in Mandogalup.
“The WAPC did, in 2010, and we support it,” he said.
“Industry does not want the rural residents to be moved out, everything can stay exactly as it is for another 50 years if that’s what the rural residents want.
“The WAPC has advised the Minister to approve the rezoning of rural land to accommodate housing in part of the buffer zone, and this even before the dust monitoring campaign in Mandogalup has been finished.
“Is there a dust problem? Well the WAPC must think there is.
Mr Oughton referred to the Department of Planning website, which reads, “New residential subdivision/ development in Mandogalup, and surrounding land in Hammond Park and Wattleup, will be subject to notifications on titles advising future residents of potential amenity impacts associated with dust.”
“So, this means that the planning decision makers know there will be dust impacts on the future residents, yet they are willing to approve it,” Mr Oughton said.
“This is bad planning.
Mr Oughton said it was the role of the WAPC is to make open and transparent planning decisions that avoid future land use conflicts.
“That’s why they put the buffer where they did in 2010, and now they have moved it,” he said.
“There are questions to be answered about why they moved it.
“A ‘buyer beware’ approach is not good enough, because first home buyers should be able to trust the planners to approve their blocks in safe places.
“A notification on land titles says there is a problem.”
Mr Oughton said the residents in Mandogalup say they have certainty, but they don’t because in the Department of Planning statement refers to three possibilities for that part of the buffer where the residents live.
“The Department has stated the options they will consider are residential, industrial and commercial, so neither does industry have any certainty,” he said.
“In reality, who actually reads all of the pages of very fine print in their new land title to find an obscure notification about a potential dust problem?”