By Claire Ottaviano
SPEAKERS against an approved application to rebuild a recycling facility in South Guildford say permission should not have been granted to a facility with a history of fires near a residential area.
The Cleanaway Materials Recovery Facility was only two years old when fire took hold of the building last year.
At 9.26am on November 25, 2019, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) deployed its Pollution Response Unit (PRU) to monitor air quality in residential areas downwind from the fire at Hyne Road.
One hour later, PRU officers moved to the industrial area around the site and, as a result, advised evacuation of the industrial area.
At 11am, the fire spread to plastic materials causing a significant increase in heat and emission of a dense black smoke plume.
The smoke plume was visible from Rottnest Island.
These details and more became available as part of the planning process to approve the application to rebuild the facility much the same as it was before.
The Metro-Outer Joint Development Assessment Panel approved the reconstruction 4/1 on Tuesday.
Caught up in the evacuation was neighbouring business WesTrac.
WesTrac safety, security and risk general manager Kevin Buckley argued in his deputation the fire at the facility caused significant adverse impacts despite having ticked all the fire, environmental and planning boxes when originally approved.
“The present application is a rare example of a renewal whereby past operations/experiences can be directly considered,” he said.
“WesTrac respectfully submits that, on balance, the JDAP ought to resolve to refuse the application given the significant amenity impacts and past fire related events, which the previously operated facility imposed on neighbouring business and the local community.”
The panel reasoned planning approval should be granted given it complied with the City of Swan Town Planning Scheme and was endorsed by DFES, the Department of Water (DWER) and Environmental Regulation and the Department of Health.
Other speakers against included Swan Cr Andrew Kiely, presenting on behalf of Cr Claire Scanlan, Bassendean resident Jane Bremmer and the Guildford Association.
Barbara Dundas of the Guildford Association said the decision was disappointing and the association felt “let down” by the regulatory bodies.
“At the end of the day they said DWER approved it, the Health Department and DFES approved it, but we still believe there are a number of issues relating to the development.”
Those issues included but were not limited to, unconfirmed figures of contaminated waste water run-off into the Swan River and a lack of assurance another fire would not cause further health issues to surrounding residents.
Last week, the City of Swan Council voted unanimously to recommend the JDAP refuse the application.
City of Swan Mayor Kevin Bailey was the only panellist to vote against it with second Council representative Rod Henderson voting in favour.
A Cleanaway spokesperson said the approval the South Guildford Material Recovery Facility was welcomed and when finished would provide essential recycling services for local Governments throughout the metropolitan area.