13/02/2008 - 22:00

Cloud over Kemerton future

13/02/2008 - 22:00

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Proponents of the expansion of Kemerton’s heavy industry precinct expect it will take 18 months to complete a strategic plan for the area to define its long-term usage.

Cloud over Kemerton future

Proponents of the expansion of Kemerton’s heavy industry precinct expect it will take 18 months to complete a strategic plan for the area to define its long-term usage.

State agency LandCorp, which is managing the process, says there is considerable demand from businesses wanting to use the expanded Kemerton Industrial Park in the future.

LandCorp says it will take until mid-2009 to complete the various studies, consult with the community and determine the cost of new infrastructure that would most likely be needed to accommodate industrial expansion, and clearly outline what sectors will be welcome.

With heavy industrial zones at Kwinana and East Rockingham close to full, Kemerton is considered the next most attractive option, especially with the Mid West’s Okajee region yet to get off the drawing board.

However, the agency has acknowledged that community concern has been raised over the proposal, notably from the nearby residential area of Leschenault.

Community representatives attended an information meeting last week, with their key concerns being centred on the extent of the buffer zone and the type of business that might go into the park in the future.

The problems surrounding the Wagerup refinery and lead exports through Esperance have provided ammunition to local residents opposed to change. Some in local business believe insufficient protection was provided for Kemerton in the past when residential development took place.

The nearest residents are about 1.5 kilometres from the closest existing industry, though expansion plans put new development further away from home owners.

Kemerton Industrial Park co-ordinating committee chairman John Kalbfell believes many local residents supported growth in the area, but  acknowledged there were some vocal critics of the plan at the meeting.

“There was a fair bit of aggro as you would expect, because no-one wants industry on their doorstep,” Mr Kalbfell said.

“There was also a lot of negative comment about the EPA [Environmental Protection Authority] and their effectiveness.”

He said the existing users supported the proposal that would define the development limits of the park and its infrastructure needs for the longer term, the most obvious being waste water treatment and a rail spur.

The two biggest operators at Kemerton are Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, a mineral sands processor owned by Middle Eastern-consortium Cristal Chemicals, and Japanese-owned silica producer Simcoa.

Several of the other players at Kemerton have operational links to Millennium or Simcoa.

They include Japanese-owned glass industry supplier Kemerton Silica Sand, chlor-alkali plant operator Nufarm Coogee Pty Ltd, and oxygen and nitrogen producer BOC Ltd.

Other operations in the park include a 260 megawatt power plant operated by Transfield Services, a Water Corporation treatment plant, a Hansol Australia Pty Ltd timber plantation and meat processor Goodchild Abattoir Pty Ltd.

The park was established in 1988 and incorporates 7,543 hectares of land, including 5,140ha of buffer area. The industrial element is a 2,110ha core, of which only a small proportion is currently being used, and a 293ha services sector zone, with its own small buffer area.

LandCorp business manager (industrial) John Hackett said the strategy plan was designed to bring together all the various studies and research done relating to current and future business in the park to establish up-to-date guidelines.

Mr Hackett said emissions standards were changing as scientific knowledge improved, which would set benchmarks for what new industries would be allowed to operate at Kemerton.

He said examples of potential future industry included photovoltaic energy cell manufacturers, which use silica, and power generation for the desalination plant to be built nearby at Binningup, which requires a high component of renewable energy.

 “We are trying to encourage synergistic industries co-locating with each other, clustering so to speak,” Mr Hackett said.

He said the strategy plan for Kemerton was also seeking to reflect the Greater Bunbury Region Scheme, which was influencing development in the area.

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