Bills set in concrete

The legal battle to try and stop a concrete plant being built in Bayswater will cost ratepayers at least $170,000.

The unelected but powerful state administrative tribunal is on the verge of approving a concrete batching plant over the objections of the elected council and hundreds of local residents.

In June 2011 the council rejected the proposal for Collier Road after receiving 400 protest letters citing noise, truck traffic and pollution concerns.

Ransberg wants three 19-metre silos and 16 storage bins on a site that is close to homes and Joan Rycroft Reserve on the fringe of the city’s light industrial zone.

The SAT has ordered the council to submit a list of rules for the plant in the event it is approved.

The council’s legal bill is already around $109,000, but will rise to at least $170,000 by the time its lawyer’s attend the SAT final hearing.

“I think it is the responsibility of council to continue to represent the ratepayers, as the development if approved will have a significant undue impact on the amenity of the area,” mayor Terry Kenyon said.

Cr Marlene Robinson said normally an SAT challenge cost the council around $20,000, but the concrete plant was a complex one-off case.

“This is a really important one to defend, as it could set a precedent across the city and people’s health are at stake,” she said.

Cr Robinson would like to see a third party appeal system allowing residents to appeal planning decisions. Currently the seaside city of Albany is WA’s last bastion of third party appeals, and is under massive pressure from the state government to strike it from its planning scheme.

Cr Kenyon was philosophical about the financial cost of the SAT appeal process.

“We have to operate within a statutory framework,” he said.

“No doubt there are other models, but WA local governments have to work within the SAT process.”

In April, Bayswater deputy mayor Barry McKenna hinted the council was prepared to go to the supreme court to stop the concrete batching plant being built in the city.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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