Cardup plant’s future hanging in the balance

Cardup plant’s future hanging in the balance

One of the last of the 28 pier shells cures before being transported to site at the Fitzroy River. Photograph – Mel Dee.

A spanner has been thrown into the works of Permacast’s operations.

On Monday Serpentine Jarrahdale councillors voted unanimously to recommend the Development Assessment Panel refuse the Cardup company’s retrospective development application (DA).

Councillors pored over a meaty, almost-300-page agenda at the council meeting on August 21 and the chambers were filled with people wanting to see the outcomes of items concerning the Cardup Business Park.

Neighbours to the plant spoke passionately against the industry expansion.

“We feel we are being pushed out of our house. We were part of a community and an area we liked until Permacast came along,” Norm Anderson said, who lives directly opposite the contested Lot 60 on Robertson Rd.

Speaking on behalf of his client, Permacast, planning and development specialist Harley Dykstra asked the council to reconsider its position.

He said the company was able to comply with the conditions regarding wastewater and stormwater management outlined by the Prevention Notice issued by the Department of Water and Environment Regulation earlier this month.

Mr Dykstra said he believed the two key contentions were noise and vibration.

Rather than recommending refusal of the DA, Mr Dykstra appealed to the council to wait for compliance.

And failing that, he asked for a deferral of the issue to allow noise and vibration matters to be discussed between the company and the council-contracted specialists.

Soldiers Rd resident Karen McEwan rebuked those suggestions in her deputation.

“Permacast has acted with impunity towards council, DWER, our community and our laws,” she said.

“This operation is too big to be able to control its emissions.”

She finished by thanking the shire and DWER for their recent investigations into locals’ complaints: “They gave us hope that we could get back our lives.”

After a protracted public discourse, the unanimous decision was made without comment by councillors.

Neighbours said they were “elated” with council’s decision, but apprehensive about what was to come.

The matter will now be decided at a five-member sitting of the Metro Outer Joint Development Assessment Panel.

Two of those members include SJ president Michelle Rich and Councillor Lauren Strange. The three remaining participants will be independent industry experts.

There is still no word when the DA might be decided on. But shire president Michelle Rich has said assessment panels usually make a decision within one month of the council meeting.

We asked Cr Rich whether there was any precedent of MODAP voting contrary to council’s recommendations.

“Given such applications are major proposals and involve the exercise of discretion, the most common variation to the recommendation made by council pertain to individual conditions where approval is recommended. In respect of this proposal, however, Council is recommending refusal,” she said.

Should MODAP unexpectedly approve Permacast’s retrospective DA, Council’s Director of Development Services said they would still need to procure a licence from DWER to operate a prescribed premise – something they have been operating without.

Permacast is currently contracted for a number of large state government infrastructure projects including the impending Byford Rail Extension.

Given this, The Examiner put a number of questions to the office of the Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti: whether the Minister knew the company didn’t have the required permits when it won the contracts? Whether these developments would delay current projects like the Byford Rail Extension? and whether the contracts would go out to tender again if MODAP refused Permacast’s DA?

This is the response from a government spokesperson in full: “We’ve been made aware of this issue and are working with the relevant contractors to see what, if any, impact this may have on the projects themselves.”

The Examiner has contacted Permacast’s Managing Director for comment but has not yet received a response.

UPDATE August 24:

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage said: “A meeting date is yet to be set for this Development Assessment Panel application”.

“A Responsible Authority Report is due from the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale on Monday, 28 August.

“Providing there are no extensions for the report, the application is expected to be heard by the Metro Outer Joint Development Assessment Panel by Friday, 8 September.”