The State Administrative Tribunal has backed a decision by the Shire of Capel to reject a proposed asphalt plant in Gelorup.
The State Administrative Tribunal has backed a decision by the Shire of Capel to reject a proposed asphalt plant in Gelorup, finding the company’s investigation was “insufficiently robust” and failed to provide evidence it would not pose a risk to human health.
In 2018, Perth-based civil engineering company Asphaltech filed a development application to build an asphalt production plant on a three-hectare site on Allenville Road in Gelorup, which was owned by road contractor Hanson Construction Materials.
The plant, which was expected to have a production capacity of 35,000 tonnes per year, was set to be built less than 1,000 metres from sites deemed sensitive receptors, including Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School.
But the Shire of Capel refused to grant the proponent development approval when the application reached the council in December 2019, a decision that followed a nine-month community campaign against the proposal.
The decision was made on the grounds that it did not achieve the 1,000 metre buffer and screening distance to sensitive land uses, as required by the EPA, and had the potential to adversely affect surrounding properties.
The company contended that there were several existing asphalt plants in the Perth metropolitan region that were less than 1,000 metres from residential development, but the shire argued that they were generally located in industrial zones.
Asphaltech took to the state’s administrative tribunal to appeal the decision, with several hearings held between July and October last year.
Last week, almost eight months after the matter first reached the tribunal, member Charmian Barton dismissed the application and affirmed the council's decision, applying the precautionary principle because of the lack of scientific data about the potential health and amenity impacts of the proposal.
Member Barton found Asphaltech’s site-specific investigation was “insufficiently robust” enough to justify building an asphalt plant within 1,000 metres of sensitive receptors and that no modelling had been conducted to determine whether the air toxins at the site presented a risk to human health and safety.
She also found that while the site and its use was permissible under the local planning scheme and capable of approval in the rural zone, the proposed development was not compatible with its setting because of its unacceptable impact on sensitive receptors through emissions of odour, dust and noise and that the benefits of co-location did not outweigh the proposal’s impact on the air quality.
Shire of Capel president Michael Southwell told Business News the decision was a significant win for the community and one that set an important precedent for the industry as a whole.
“It’s a significant win and a significant decision - the people of Gelorup are celebrating today,” he said.
“We waited a long time for the decision and we were concerned, but the member has delivered a very considered and deliberate decision.
“I believe the decision sets an important precedent and casts a shadow of doubt over existing plants operating in close proximity to residential homes.”
Asphaltech told Business News it did not wish to comment on the matter.