Dust puts brakes on West End

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph

Dust pollution from mining in Port Hedland is costing businesses more than $300 million and more than 280 jobs, a new report says.

Commissioned by The Esplanade Hotel co-owner Con Berbatis after seeing the West End become a “shadow of itself”, the Dust Costs Report details the costs associated with dust pollution in the West End.

The study, which was commissioned and submitted to the Department of Environmental Regulation in response to BHP Billiton’s licence application to increase iron ore exports from 270 million tonnes per annum to 290mtpa, claims the cost of mitigating the dust is having an impact on economic activity, tourism spending and development.

Dr Berbatis, who has been a partner in the Esplanade Hotel since 2012, said action was needed now, and called on the new Labor Government to deal with the issue as a matter of priority. “The West End is suffering amenity-wise and the whole of the West End is being sacrificed through difficult town planning constraints,” he said.

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“The West End is the jewel in the crown of Port Hedland. Excessive dust emissions from the port’s users, and the neglect of government and the resources companies mean that it is a shadow of itself.

“There needs to be a strong response to the dust emission problem. First West Hedland needs to be regenerated.

“It is time the relevant ministers, stakeholders and port users got together to agree on adequate compensation for affected parties.

“Let’s all agree on effective dust-control measures which fix the actual dust-related problems in the West End immediately.”

According to the report, prepared by town planning consultants TPG Place Match, dust emissions are causing a $23 million reduction in direct annual gross regional production, up to $1.3 million a year in cleaning and infrastructure replacement, and more than $30 million lost since 2014 because of lack of activity in the West End.

“It is unacceptable that BHP seeks a work-around of political accountability with their licence extension applications,” Dr Berbatis said.

At the time of print, the DER had suspended the determination of BHP’s licence application.

A DER spokeswoman said the department had begun a three-month Port Hedland air quality monitoring campaign.

A BHP Billiton spokeswoman said the company would respond to issues raised by the Department of Environment Regulation as part of its public consultation process for a licence amendment application to increase tonnage at Port Hedland.

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