Policy to limit service stations

Don Barba is leading a group of residents and medical experts opposing the Angove Street petrol station. Photo from Stop the Station, Save North Perth facebook page

NEW petrol stations woiuld be banned from opening in the vast majority of Vincent under proposed rules intended to safeguard public health. 

Petrol stations aren’t allowed in residential areas and the proposal would ban new ones from ‘mixed use’ zones and town centres. New ones could only open on land zoned commercial, and only then if it’s not adjacent to other zones.

The new ban was moved by Vincent councillor Ashley Wallace and was prompted by community opposition to a proposed petrol station on Angove Street, abutting housing and across the road from the cafe strip (“Cafe fans fume over 24-hour servo,” Voice, November 19, 2022).

The planned station by petrol giant OTR has raised concerns among locals and medical experts who’ve penned a paper on the health effects of benzene, a common petrol station emission linked to increased cancer risk.

While the new policy is too late to stop that proposal, Cr Wallace said “the next best available option is to be reactive. I think it’s clear since the last time the local planning scheme was updated… there’s been a change in attitude in the community around the appropriate locations for service stations.

“Fossil fuel use and the internal combustion engine are in decline,” he said, so it didn’t make sense to keep building infrastructure to support them in sensitive areas.

“Service stations are also a leading cause of soil, groundwater and air contamination in the city, and on a number of occasions have resulted in human and environmental health impacts outside of their respective lots.”

The rule still needs state government approval.

Mayor Emma Cole said while the rule couldn’t apply retrospectively, it’d head off future applications expected to roll in now that large companies are eyeing off even small suburban blocks as a good spot for a servo.

“Whilst we haven’t had a flurry of petrol station applications, we have been seeing more of them,” Ms Cole said, so it was smart to get the new ban in place. 

“I think we are potentially going to see more of these.

“This is obviously something causing great concern … I think this will give the community some comfort knowing where the council sits on this.”

Resident Don Barba has organised a local group, Stop the Station opposing OTR’s plans. While it would’ve been ideal for this rule to be in before the Angove Street proposal he still welcomed the move.

“Our group is glad at least that something has been done for town centres in the City of Vincent,” he says.

They’re now gathering their efforts to try to convince the state government’s Development Assessment Panel to reject OTR’s plan, a decision likely to come early 2022.

The Stop the Station group ran a fundraiser with a target of $4,000 to pay for a town planning expert to help them state their case.

“I’ve just been so amazed by the support and feedback we’ve had from people,” Mr Barba says.

“The contribution from our locals has just been phenomenal. Within three days we reached our goal of $4,000.”

OTR’s application to open the station addressed “the possible risk to human health or safety” with a one line reply: “This matter is not relevant to this proposal.”

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