School safety fears

Concerned residents with Labor leader Mark McGowan and West Swan MLA Rita Saffioti at the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas pipeline near the school. Picture: Paul Mclaughlin
Concerned residents with Labor leader Mark McGowan and West Swan MLA Rita Saffioti at the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas pipeline near the school. Picture: Paul Mclaughlin

The school, which has grown from 550 students in 2008 to more than 1490 in just five years, is expected to have more than 2100 by 2017 as Perth’s fasting growing suburb continues on its relentless growth track towards a predicted population of 50,000 over the next decade.

The State Government’s decision to push back construction of the new North Ellenbrook High School to 2018 means the addition of demountable classrooms at the college are inevitable.

But Labor leader Mark McGowan said the placement of the transportables on the school oval could mean they were dangerously close to the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas pipeline.

‘To put those demountables inside of that area that should be excluded from construction would be breaching the Government’s own policy,’ he said.

‘There will be a massive loss of playing fields for children at the school, so I think parents deserve an assurance of the safety of their children will not be compromised.’

According to a WA Planning Commission report dated October, 2007, high-|pressure gas pipelines pose a level of risk that must be assessed when considering local planning schemes, scheme amendments, structure plans, land use, subdivision and development of land in the vicinity of the pipelines to ensure that risk to people and property is at acceptable limits.

Mandated setback distances of 90m have been imposed on the gas pipeline between Muchea and Kwinana for sensitive developments, including schools, residential, commercial and industrial areas.

Department of Education executive director of infrastructure John Fischer denied the demountables would be placed in the exclusion zone and said children would not be in danger.

He said the pipeline’s owners had advised that options being considered where to locate the classrooms would not in any way impact on the pipeline.

Mr Fischer said options were being investigated for the location of transportables and the department was undertaking work to ensure that the oval space was ‘not compromised’.

‘We will continue to monitor enrolment growth and provide the classrooms on a needs basis,’ he said.

Parents Paul and Raelene Mclaughlin said it was not acceptable to have the demountables in the buffer zone of the pipeline.

‘Our eldest is in Year 8 and, from what we understand now, the classes and teachers are at maximum,’ Mr Mclaughlin said.

‘We’ve had no concerns up till now, but with the amount of children coming to the school, how is that going to change the ratio of teacher to student in the classrooms?’ Mrs Mclaughlin said.

West Swan MLA Rita Saffioti called for the Government to overturn its decision to delay construction of the North Ellenbrook High School immediately.