06/02/2008 - 22:00

Housing threat to Kwinana industry

06/02/2008 - 22:00

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Industry in Kwinana has raised concerns about plans for residential housing in a proposed new subdivision, which could affect Alcoa’s refinery expansion plans and its viability.

Industry in Kwinana has raised concerns about plans for residential housing in a proposed new subdivision, which could affect Alcoa’s refinery expansion plans and its viability.

The Town of Kwinana has backed a Western Australian Planning Commission move to zone an area known as Mandogalup for residential development.

The area sits between Rowley Road and Anketell Road, on the eastern border of Alcoa’s 45-year-old Kwinana alumina refinery, where the plant’s dry residue waste is stockpiled.

Alcoa has raised its concerns directly with the town, highlighting the possibility of dust and odour issues depending on weather patterns.

Council minutes obtained by WA Business News indicate the development poses a threat to the refinery’s future by jeopardising an expansion of the facility, which employs 1,500 people and contributes $600 million annually to the WA economy.

The minutes show Alcoa refinery representative Peter Wright informed the council in December that the future development of the Kwinana refinery hinges on this decision to rezone what is known as Mandogalup’s Cell 1 to ‘urban deferred’.

According to the minutes, Mr Wright said Alcoa was working on preliminary plans for a significant expansion of the Kwinana refinery and that without modernising and expanding the refinery, the sustainability of the Kwinana refinery operations would be jeopardised in the medium term.

Asked whether the Mandogalup development could affect the viability of the facility, an Alcoa spokesperson said  it had no definitive plans for an expansion.

The Kwinana Industry Council, which represents the massive business interests in the area, has lobbied both the council and the state government to have the Mandogalup area rezoned for light commercial use.

Up against the industry wishes is the large amount of commercial land in the area, including the Latitude 32 precinct being marketed by Landcorp, which itself involved the resumption of some residential areas to improve the buffer with Kwinana’s heavier industrial players.

The KIC’s plan also jeopardises current infrastructure plans in the area, with residential development at Mandogalup considered important to provide the wider region the population base to sustain schools, a new train station and other community assets.

KIC director Chris Oughton said that, while industry was working to reduce its impact on surrounding areas, there were always issues at the boundaries.

He said the key issue was dust which, given industry sensitivities, could create problems in the future.

“We need to be concerned about the possible health impacts, perceived or real, for the future home owners of that area,” Mr Oughton said.

“If new residents think there is a problem, there is a problem.

“Buffers were put in place to protect the community from industry and industry from the community.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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