Infant health, neuro disease raised in opposition to shire planning strategy

Michael Sinclair-Jones
 
DISEASES such as Alzheimers, dementia,  Parkinson’s and infant kidney problems have been cited in a public submission opposing the Shire of Toodyay’s plan to add mining to its new local planning strategy.
The submission targets bauxite mining in Morangup, where plans for a huge open-cut mine are currently on hold.
Mineral tenements in Julimar, Coondle, Dewars Pool and Nunile have also been pegged for potential open-cut bauxite mining operations.
 
The shire has advertised plans to add mining as a ‘discretionary’ land use in its new local planning strategy.
Public submissions close November 3.
 
Toodyay Shire Deputy President Therese Chitty and Crs Paula Greenway, Ben Bell and Sally Craddock have said publicly that they oppose bauxite mining in Morangup.
 
A report by town planning and urban design consultants Peter D. Webb and Associates links toxicity from alumina dust to several adult neuro-degenerative diseases as well as kidney problems in babies.
 
Mr Webb said he was acting for a number of concerned residents and ratepayers in the Shire of Toodyay, but particularly those in the locality of Morangup.
 
“The lives of well over 900 Morangup people will be severely damaged and compromised if large-scale open-cut mining starts in the community,” he said.
 
“Dust from a bauxite mine will cover roofs and have the potential to contaminate the community’s only source of drinking water.”
 
The nearest residential properties are only 400m from the proposed open-cut mine.
 
The report also cites threats to local stream flows, salinity, agricultural production, rural lifestyle, tourism and the ‘Toodyay brand’.
 
Mr Webb said local residents were aware that State law could allow mining to occur.
 
However, they wanted the shire to acknowledge their deep concerns and to recognise the significant range of impacts which would follow from any such open-cut bauxite mining operation.
 
“While it is apparent that local governments can’t refuse permission for mining operations, the WA Mining Act does require mining applicants to ‘… take into account the provisions of any town planning scheme …’,” Mr Webb said.
 
“Morangup and the surrounding Avon Hills area is a strongly agrarian and tourist region with boutique industries ranging from food crops, boutique wineries and restaurants, olive groves, an organic herb farm, orchards, a goat dairy providing cheese and milk, health retreats, chalets and cabins, paint balling and an archery park.
 
“The picturesque hilly tourist drive along Toodyay Road is frequented on a weekly basis by bike and car clubs and groups, and local and overseas tourists 
 
“We are advised that the area is renowned for its clean air, productive grazing country and fertile soils.
 
“Exploration and mining is an incompatible land use with the existing economic activity, traditional land uses and the strategic environmental activities of this area.
 
“To include mining as a discretionary use in the rural zone of the shire in all of these circumstances in our view is quite irresponsible.”
 
The shire will consider public submissions before finalising its new local planning strategy at a meeting of the full council.


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