'Noxious' plants get green light

KIM KIRKMANNorth West Telegraph

Two asphalt manufacturing plants have been given the green light at Wedgefield, despite strong objections and health concerns of surrounding property owners.

Picture: Port Hedland mayor Kelly Howlett

Formal objections from within Wedgefield, where about 200 caretakers’ dwellings are reported to be located, said emissions from the plants posed a risk to public health.

The fumes are reportedly strong enough to induce nausea, dizziness and headaches.

Mayor Kelly Howlett said the items were a “really difficult decision” for the council, which approved both proposals with a four-three majority.

“We have deemed that they haven’t got approval to operate forever and we feel we have struck the best compromise that we possibly could,” she said.

“We couldn’t close these two facilities down, as it would have put an immediate stop to works that are happening around town.”

There is currently no land other than Wedgefield designated for industrial use.

According to Cr Howlett, the council will bring the issue of lack of industrial land before the Premier and the Minister for Regional Development and will request the fast tracking of release of appropriate land. In a written objection, Jonathan Turnbull, the owner of a caretakers’ residence on Moorambine Street, slammed the proposal as “ridiculous”.

“People cannot be expected to live and work in a toxic environment simply for the financial gain of another,” he said.

An Environmental Assessment Report by the Department of Environment and Conservation stated emissions and discharges associated with the works approval were a low risk to the environment. Noise was considered a particular nuisance as the plants operated continuously when in use.

Noxious industries are also considered to have a detrimental impact on surrounding property values and Wedgefield business owners said approval of the proposal would set an unwanted precedent.

Hedland First National Real Estate principal Morag Lowe said while she had submitted an objection her main issue was with the “half-baked” council planning policy currently “inflicted” on Wedgefield.

“We live in a noisy, dusty and sometimes smelly town, and that’s that, and if we want to turn the place into a vibrant, well serviced industrial town, then we have to find places for people to live in,” she said.

Ms Lowe said the Wedgefield policy barring caretakers’ accommodation on new blocks of land due to the health effects of “noxious industry” was nonsensical.

“Am I missing the point? Is there any sense to any of this? Does anyone have any idea what we’re doing any more?” she said.

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