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Under Threat

Extracts from Local Community Newspapers:

"The EPA has admitted it is powerless to stop a Swan Valley quarry operator breaching the conditions of its licence… The EPA reviewed the environmental conditions imposed on the Red Hill facility, operated by Hanson Construction Materials, at the request of Environment Minister Judy Edwards… EPA chairman Dr Wally Cox has now recommended this condition be removed because it was not achievable… No environmental conditions have ever been imposed on the extension and the EPA is barred from assessing it more than once. (Midland Reporter 7/12/04 p5)

"The WA Planning Commission has granted a multinational company a new licence to run its Red Hill quarry even though the site is not meeting its original operating conditions…" According to Dr Wally Cox, EPA chairman, "The quarry had been constructed about 94 metres south and 68 metres higher on the Darling Escarpment than the original approved footprint". "Mr Elwood said he would consider also taking legal action against the City of Swan for its role in issuing a new licence to Hanson". (Echo 4/12/04 p6)

"$1.5m supreme court law suit by Brigadoon land owner, Tony Elwood… Mr Elwood said Hanson’s plan to expand its operations at the site should be refused given the quarry had already been built 16.6ha outside of its original location… former business editor for The West Australian described the Red Hill quarry dispute as a ‘litany of woe’… Mr McGlue said a decision on the new licence should not be swayed by any short term economic effects”. (Echo 13/11/04 p9)

"An independent inquiry into the quarry, ordered by Environment Minister Judy Edwards, found Pioneer did not comply with their environmental impact commitments. But “Mr Elwood said the department had done nothing to bring the company to task”. (Echo 2/10/04 p1)

“Pioneer’s general management will be informed that the council is not satisfied with current operations, which are still generating complaints at an unacceptable level”. (Echo 2/7/89 p3)

On 15 August 2007 the City of Swan considered the application of Hanson Australia Pty Ltd to expand its rock extraction operations at Lot 11 (585) Toodyay Road, Gidgegannup. The minutes of the meeting show that Councillor McNamara voted for the proposal despite having a financial interest in the operation. (see minutes)

At the meeting the Department of Indigenous Affairs (DIA) recommended that "the applicant undertake an appropriate Aboriginal heritage survey of the area". (Minutes p 7)

The City of Swan noted that an adjacent landowner had commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court, alleging the quarry had been developed outside of its approved footprint: "the submitter is of the opinion that the Minister incorrectly used powers available to her under s45C and 46 of the EP Act 1986 to change the original proposal in order to allow the quarry to continue to operate within the west pit extension". (Minutes, p 10)

The minutes also note: "A common issue raised by the public was the applicant's non-compliance with approval conditions imposed by the Ministerial Statement 705, specifically with regard to operations occurring outside the approved quarry footprint. The public generally share the view that the applicant 'can not be trusted' and therefore the subject proposal should not be approved". (p 14)

The motion was put to the vote and lost (2/9). The motion was amended by adding the condition that the Western Australian Planning Commission consider imposing a bond to ensure compliance with the conditions. This was put to the vote and carried unanimously.

A satellite photo from Google Earth (taken on 13 March 2007) shows, using GDA coordinates provided by Hanson and approved by the City of Swan, that mining had already progressed well into (and in one area had actually gone beyond) the proposed expansion area 5 months before approval was given.

Hanson Australia had not consulted with relevant Native Title Holders despite the fact that Lot 11 (585) contains 6 registered Aboriginal Heritage Sites.

On 20 November 2007 a paper was tabled in the Legislative assembly condemning the performance of the Department of Indigenous Affairs in its duty to protect Aboriginal heritage sites.[1] On the following day the DIA sent a letter to Hanson strongly recommending that they conduct an Aboriginal heritage survey and consult with Native Title Holders.

The Nyungah Elders are still waiting to be consulted.

1. Report of the Review of the Department of Indigenous Affairs, Dr Dawn Casey PSM, FAHA, April 2007 (Tabled Paper No. 3459 Tabled on 20-Nov-2007).
This information is provided without prejudice by the Swan Valley Nyungah Community Aboriginal Corporation 2008, and is intended to be as accurate as possible.