02/08/2017 - 16:03

EPA clears part of Mandogalup for development

02/08/2017 - 16:03

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Satterley Property Group has welcomed advice from the Environmental Protection Authority that confirmed there were no health risks over its landholdings in Mandogalup, but uncertainty still hangs over whether part of the southern suburb is appropriate for residential development.

Residents were out in force protesting the extended buffer during this year's state election campaign.

Satterley Property Group has welcomed advice from the Environmental Protection Authority that confirmed there were no health risks over its landholdings in Mandogalup, but uncertainty still hangs over whether part of the southern suburb is appropriate for residential development.

The EPA today released its advice on the proposed extension of a buffer around industrial areas in Kwinana, which was first flagged midway in late 2015.

The existing buffer extends around 1 kilometre from the edge of a bauxite residue disposal area operated by Alcoa of Australia.

In 2015, Alcoa of Australia and the Kwinana Industries Council lobbied the state government to extend that buffer to 1.5km, saying it would reduce the risk of accidents or potential adverse health issues.

Residents in the area and developers Satterley Property Group and Qube Property Group argued at the time that extending the buffer would erode their rights as landowners, as it would encroach on existing homes and land flagged for residential development that was purchased before any buffer extension was proposed.

Alcoa had told Mandogalup residents and developers with landholdings in the area that it planned to close the bauxite facility by 2004, however that has not occurred and the disposal area is still operating.

Today, the EPA said the results of a 2016 study indicated there were negligible health risks and a low likelihood of amenity impacts in the eastern area of Mandogalup, because it was located a far enough distance away from the Alcoa facility.

However, for a large parcel of land closer to the facility in the north and north-east Mandogalup area, the EPA said air quality did not meet national standards and further investigation was necessary.

Satterley Property Group managing director Nigel Satterley said the developer was very pleased that the EPA had found there were no health risks with his landholdings, which are located in the eastern portion of Mandogalup.

“We will now be asking the government to lift the urban deferment on about 33 hectares so we can start planning the balance of our land,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to working with the government to get the balance of the approvals through the planning department.”

About 55 Mandogalup residents had also been campaigning against the buffer extension, also on the basis that their rights as landowners would have been revoked if the buffer were extended.

Spokesperson Ron Edwards said the EPA advice confirmed that there were no health risks associated with air or water quality in the area.

“That is really what residents have been saying all along,” Mr Edwards said.

“What (the EPA advice) has done is it’s lifted a great cloud off of their shoulders.”

However, Mr Edwards said there remained a number of residents whose homes were in areas where the EPA said more investigation was necessary because of the air quality issues.

While the EPA said it had consulted with the Department of Health regarding its findings, which advised that the air quality did not pose an immediate health risk, it said the department agreed there was a need to determine the principal sources of dust impacting air quality.

“Very clearly, the way that the cloud can be lifted off of them is for Alcoa to do what they committed to do in 2004, which is to close the residue disposal area,” Mr Edwards said.

“If they close that, then the residents in that northern area of Mandogalup will also have the cloud lifted off them, and frankly, the residents will be saying to Alcoa, ‘do what you promised’.”

The EPA’s report will now be evaluated by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, who will make the final call on whether the buffer will be extended.

Qube Property Group managing director Mark Hector declined to comment on the report prior to the company and its consultants evaluating its findings in detail.

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