OPPONENTS of a wave park proposed for Tompkins Park fear they will be shut out from challenging the project following news a development application will not have to clear the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) as initially expected.
Wave Park Group and the City of Melville signed off on a lease agreement in April.
A development application for the $25 million Alfred Cove surf facility – named Urbnsurf Perth – is expected to be lodged in late 2017.
That application was set to be scrutinised by the DBCA before a recommendation was put to the Environment Minister for approval.
But in a letter to the Alfred Cove Action Group last month, DBCA acting director Mark Cugley said that would not be the case because the three lots that make up the project site did not fall wholly within the Swan River Development Control Area.
It means the application will therefore not be assessed by DBCA under the Swan and Canning Rivers Management Act 2006, but rather by the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) or a Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP).
Alfred Cove Action Group spokesman David Maynier said the group was concerned the new assessment hurdles would not include public consultation.
He said the group feared a Metro Central JDAP panel meeting allowing them to present their case would be useless because its panel – which includes two Melville councillors in favour of the project should it clear environmental markers – would have already made up their mind.
“We are struggling to find out what opportunity there is for public comment,” Mr Maynier said.
A WAPC spokeswoman said there “are no express provisions in the Metropolitan Regional Scheme for development applications to be advertised”.
“Referral agencies may choose to seek public comment in order to inform their advice or recommendation to the WAPC on the matter,” she said.
In his letter, Mr Cugley said the Swan River Trust – an advisory body for the Swan and Canning rivers – would provide advice to the WAPC or JDAP.
“If the WAPC or JDAP disagrees with the Trust’s advice, the application will need to be resolved in the manner determined by the Minister for Environment and the Minister for Planning,” he said.
City of Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox said the City was yet to receive formal advice from the DBCA or WAPC regarding changes to the development assessment process.
“Upon receipt of any formal advice from either agency, the City will provide an update on its website,” Dr Silcox said.
If planning approval is received, construction should commence towards the end of 2018 and the first waves ridden in early 2020.