MAYOR Barry Sammels has expressed concern about the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) investigation into the Western Trade Coast Buffer, fearing the City of Rockingham and its residents are being “ignored”.
The EPA will draft a report after Minister for Environment Albert Jacob requested more information from the independent body back in June.
The investigation, which will be into the potential health and amenity impacts that dust may have on the Mandogalup area, excludes the southern portion of the proposed buffer.
Cr Sammels said it was a concern the whole of the buffer was not being investigated.
“The City is concerned that if the EPA focuses on just one section of the boundary line, the rights and interests of our residents will be ignored,” he said.
“We hope that all aspects of the matter, including the entire WTC buffer zone boundary line, are investigated by the EPA, in line with legislation and according to contemporary scientific principles.”
However EPA Chairman Tom Hatton said this would not be the case.
“The EPA’s advice to the Minister for Environment will be in respect to potential health and amenity impacts of dust on urban development in the Mandogalup area,” Dr Hatton said.
“The Minister for Environment has requested the EPA to provide this advice under section 16(e) of the Environmental Protection Act 1986, following a request from the Minister for State Development.”
Cr Sammels bemoaned that a pocket of land in the City’s boundary was currently unable to be developed due to the ongoing buffer zone debate.
“There is an area of prime commercial land on Patterson Road that’s going begging at the moment because even though there are developers eager to create new opportunities there, we can’t provide the necessary approvals,” he said.
“This ongoing delay is now costing jobs, costing investment, and costing commercial activity.
“We call upon the Government to allow us to amend our town planning scheme to proceed because the buffer zone fiasco could take years to resolve.”
However, Department of Planning Director General Gail McGowan said the City would have to wait for the opportunity to pursue any changes to the town planning scheme.
“The MRS Amendment to the City of Rockingham’s Amendment No. 161 to TPS 2 is currently open for public comment,” she said.
“Once this has closed the City of Rockingham will forward its recommendation to the Western Australian Planning Commission for its consideration and recommendation to the Minister for Planning.”