UPPER Swan residents have won a three-year battle, with Planning Minister Rita Saffioti rejecting a planning scheme amendment that would have permitted a bitumen batching plant in Upper Swan.
On Wednesday, Ms Saffioti accepted the WA Planning Commissions’s recommendation to refuse the project on Great Northern Highway, determining the proposed additional use of industry general was inconsistent with both the strategic intent of the draft City of Swan Local Planning Strategy, as well as the WAPC’s North-East Sub-regional Planning Framework.
For Upper Swan District Residents and Ratepayers Association (USDRRA) members like Anne Winchester and Jan Benain, the decision has been a long time coming.
Bitutek, a Western Australian Local Government Association preferred supplier of bitumen from their Great Northern Highway location, made their application to amend the local planning scheme to allow the development of a bitumen batching plant three years ago, with the City of Swan resolving to initiate the amendment on August 30, 2017.
A successful change to the local planning scheme would have allowed Bitutek to then lodge a development application for the plant.
Following the public advertising process, 83 submissions were received, with 73 of these submissions objecting to the chance due to concerns over smell and noise, as well as the inappropriate nature of an industrial activity in a location zoned rural under the Metropolitan Regional Scheme.
On January 22 this year, however, Council refused to support the LPS change, siding with residents concerned about emissions.
Ultimately, however, the power to approve the LPS was in the hands of the Minister.
Ms Saffioti’s decision to refuse now means the issue is resolved in its entirety.
USDRRA fought the application extensively, and Ms Winchester said the Minister’s decision was a great result for the community.
“We felt a bitumen processing plant would have been out of place and would have been totally incompatible with the rural and residential amenity within Upper Swan,” she said.
“Over the past four years residents have voiced their disapproval of the activities already being carried out at the site.
“The odours produced adversely impact the health of residents and limit outdoor activities.
“We are also concerned about the traffic flow and safety on the highway, the potential for fires, and the potential for environmental pollution of the nearby wetlands.
“We were fearful that approval would encourage other similar industries at the very edge of within our rural residential townsite.
Swan Hills member Jessica Shaw also welcomed the decision and thanked USDRRA for their tireless efforts.
City of Swan chief executive Mike Foley said the City also welcomed the Minister’s decision as it provided a resolution for both the applicant and local community.
“The decision supports Council’s resolution of the January 22, 2020 Council Meeting to not approve a planning amendment on the basis that bitumen processing is likely to adversely impact the rural and residential amenity of the locality.” he said.
For Bitutek, it’s back to the drawing board.
Director Rob Lundie said the decision would effectively mean the business would now have to split in two, but said they would continue forward to locate an appropriate site for batching, be that in the City of Swan or elsewhere.
“Clearly we’re disappointed, we thought it was a reasonable thing to approve but it hasn’t been so I guess that’s the end of the matter.
“We were hoping to do everything on the one site.
“There are options [in terms of location], it’s a bit disappointing to have to split the business into two so to speak but it is what it is.”