Bypass business ‘bonkers’

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
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Paul Moxham wanted to live on a property where he and his wife could have their own airstrip.
Camera IconPaul Moxham wanted to live on a property where he and his wife could have their own airstrip. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian, Geoff Vivian The Geraldton Guardian

A request for the City of Greater Geraldton to comment on a proposed heavy haulage bypass is “absolutely bonkers” when councillors have been given no information — not even how wide it will be — Mayor Shane Van Styn says.

A group of Walkaway residents concerned about losing their homes and rural lifestyle to the proposed bypass cheered before leaving Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Mr Van Styn moved a lengthy motion, calling on the WA Government to support the northern section of the proposed bypass, but not the proposed route south of the Geraldton-Mount Magnet Road.

Instead, he called for upgrades to the Geraldton-Mount Magnet Road and Brand Highway, and requested a detailed analysis of an inner bypass connecting them to Narngulu via Rudd’s Gully Road.

“The essence of this motion before us is that we simply haven’t been provided the information,” Mr Van Styn said. “There is no information on socio-economic benefits, on the wetlands, on drinking water.

“It is absolutely bonkers that we’ve been asked to provide a response on a corridor — we don’t even know how wide the thing is going to be.”

Mr Van Styn said while mining traffic was slowing down between Geraldton and the Pilbara, the east-west route was ramping up, with new mines in the Murchison sending ore to Geraldton port.

“For this reason the upgrades to the east-west route were more urgent, he said. All councillors supported the motion.

Before the council voted, four Walkaway residents spoke during public question time.

Odette Williams asked if the City would allow the corridor to sever a number of east Walkway families from the amenity of their town, losing prime agricultural land and homes.

Paul Moxham said the “blue line” which defined the proposed freight corridor went over the top of his caretaker’s house, his only water supply, and about a third of his light aircraft runway. “After we retired eight years ago we bought our dream home — what happens to our right of quiet enjoyment?” he said.

City development services director Phil Melling said the council’s powers were limited to providing feedback and raising issues with the WA Government.

“The ultimate decision on which route is selected, though, will rest with the State Government via Main Roads,” he said.

“These issues have been considered in the report to council and will be formally raised with Main Roads and the State Government via our submission and also face-to-face.

“The City has recommended that the State does just not draw a line over people’s properties, but once they have selected the route, that they make the necessary purchases.”

Walkaway resident Julie Campbell asked what social and economic reporting had been commissioned to determine the road’s impact on people and businesses.

Chief executive Ross McKim said the City had asked the same question of the WA Government.

“Our understanding is that study has not yet been done, but we think it should be,” he said.

Ms Campbell also asked what information the City had obtained from the Water Corporation as to what effect the proposed highway would have on the Allanooka wetlands and bore field, which supplied Geraldton’s drinking water.

Mr Melling said the City was still awaiting this advice, and Mr McKim advised all speakers to put their questions directly to the WA Government.

“The City will also forward them to the State for response,” he said.

“The bottom line is we don’t have that information, we haven’t been told anything about the acquisition process.”

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