In a shock move, the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale council has thrown its support behind concerned residents by suggesting Austral Bricks relocate its century-old Cardup operation to Mundijong ahead of a $55 million expansion.
On Monday, the council unanimously supported a motion moved by Shire president Michelle Rich requesting that the chief executive officer work with the company and the region’s development commission to investigate the feasibility of moving the operation 10 kilometres west to Mundijong’s Industrial Area.
Though he supported the motion, councillor Rob Coales raised questions about the feasibility of the move for the company, noting that there was no access to power, water or electricity at the proposed site.
Councillor Rich told Examiner Newspapers that constituent feedback regarding the proposed expansion had prompted the motion, as well as recent changes to the Planning and Development Act, and confirmed the chief executive officer had already had a preliminary discussion with the company regarding the proposal.
Late last year the company filed a development application to clear vegetation and expand the factory’s footprint by 8944 square-metres at its Cardup site, which has operated on the southern extremity of Byford for more than 100 years.
But the site has become urbanised over the last decade, with urban development now within 180 metres of the site boundary and 400 metres from a lot earmarked for a new primary school.
The EPA states that clay brick manufacturing requires a buffer of 300 to 1000 metres between Industrial and Sensitive Land uses – which include residential areas, schools, hospitals and holiday accommodation.
The proposal saw residents raise concerns about the potential environmental impact of the expansion and the chemical makeup of the dust already being carried across the Scarp development area by prevailing south-easterly winds.
Several of those residents watched on as council supported the motion, including Serpentine Jarrahdale Ratepayers Association president and Cardup Stakeholder Consultative Group member Alan Clarkson.
Mr Clarkson said he was pleased with the decision and stood by prior statements that the proposal should be subjected to a Public Environmental Review, the highest level of assessment undertaken by the state’s Environmental Protection Authority.
“I believe it was a very responsible decision by council,” he said.
“I hope the state government and the agencies involved will take on board the council’s position and feedback from residents.
“There are a number of issues that have never been addressed, including what is in the dust being emitted from the site, and the sort of impact that that could have on human health.
“I have to stress that we want jobs here, just not at the expense of human health.”
However, the company are understood to have already undertaken a number of investigations, including environmental modelling, to comply with the authorities’ stringent approvals process.
Austral Bricks WA general manager David Johnson said the company were proud to be a part of the local community and to have made a long-standing contribution to the local economy.
Mr Johnson said the company had consistently engaged with the local community and stakeholders about the operation and plans for the future and would continue to do so.