Geraldton residents ‘gutted’ after CBH facility approved
Narngulu residents living next door to a temporary CBH grain stockpiling facility have said they feel “gutted” and “disappointed” the facility will now be permanent.
Last week City of Greater Geraldton councillors voted 7-3 in favour of approving a permanent facility on Lot 15 Arthur Road, just a stone’s throw from CBH’s existing six bulkheads.
The council imposed conditions on the developmental approval, including landscaping requirements and a 2m-high stabilised earth bund along the northern boundary and a portion of the western boundary.
After a heated debate, councillors were told if the application was rejected or deferred, CBH would likely go to the State Administrative Tribunal.
“Not making a decision takes you outside of the 90-day period to make a decision,” Mayor Shane Van Styn said.
“That opens the door to SAT or JDAP (Joint Development Assessment Panel), who have a history of shredding conditions.”
City chief executive Ross McKim noted if the application wasn’t approved, CBH could continue to use the temporary facility to store up to 180,000 tonnes.
“That would mean worse outcomes for the neighbours,” Mr McKim said.
“CBH are moving it away and committing to doing some sort of protection.
“Will (the earth bund) totally remove all sound and dust? No. Will it mitigate? I think so.”
The condition for an earth bund was put forward by Cr Victor Tanti, who said it would “offer a degree of comfort” to the adjacent landowners.
According to Mr McKim, the wall won’t cover the whole 1.2km boundary, as it would cost around $250,000 to construct.
City director of development and community services Phil Melling said CBH was willing to work with the City’s conditions.
But Vicki Hallett, whose Edward Road property abuts the CBH site to the west, said the earth bund wouldn’t solve all their problems.
“It may do a little bit (to help) but I think it’s too short — the noise is just going to go around it,” she said.
“Six days a week all year they’ll be operating from 6am to 10pm, and for three months those hours are every day of the week. How ridiculous to have to put up with those hours.
“This is just a piecemeal approach ... but if it went to SAT at least someone would have had to look into it to make sure it was above-board.
“The whole thing is so frustrating and we have no right of appeal — we’ve got nothing.”
On the northern boundary of the CBH site is Peter Hollaway and his family’s property on Arthur Road.
Since the temporary facility was constructed in 2017 – after it was approved by the City under delegation in 2014 – Mr Hollaway said their “peaceful way of life” had been affected.
“It feels like a losing battle against a big corporation,” he said.
“Our main issue is the pollution this site is causing; the noise, the dust, the lights, and the visual aspect — all we see is these big bins.
“The southerly wind blows any pollution, dust and rubbish onto our property.
“We were told we won’t be affected by lights, but they shine straight into our house.
“Our gate access will have to be recessed further for safety reasons due to the high volume of trucks and the speed of the road.
“At the end of the day the council have gone with the progress of a big business at the expense of ratepayers who are affected and will be affected for a long time.”
During deliberations on Tuesday, several councillors mentioned how important it was for proponents to conduct consultations with neighbours who may be affected.
“This is a warning shot to CBH,” Cr Douglas said.
“As much as we want them in the community, they’re a part of the community and have to work with the community.”
CBH senior project manager Nathan Hayes said the co-op welcomed the City’s approval of the new permanent site and the additional conditions.
“We’ll continue to monitor the needs of our growers to determine any future storage requirements at the site or across the region,” he said.
Crs Graeme Bylund, Simon Keemink and Michael Reymond voted against the proposal.
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