CREDIT: Jake Dietsch, Mandurah Coastal Times
The long-running stoush over a proposal to build a marina at Point Grey has taken yet another turn, as the WA Planning Commission halted the Shire of Murray’s latest move to scupper the proposal for good.
The Shire of Murray had voted in March to advertise an amendment to its Town Planning to remove a “marina” from a list of uses for Point Grey.
The move, followed months of legal battles with developers, Point Grey Development Company Pty Ltd and Tian An Australia Limited, who proposed last year to build a 300-berth marina on the western side of the Point Grey peninsula.
The Shire opposed the proposal, with the State Administrative Tribunal upholding its vote decision last November.
Shire officers are now recommending council resolves not to advertise the change to the Town Planning and to instead hold the vote again in public.
In a council report, staff said the Commission raised questions over the “validity” of the council’s confidential vote, “which potentially denied procedural fairness to the landowners and to members of the public”.
Council is set to vote on the issue publicly on Thursday.
The matter will then be referred again to the EPA and the Commission.
Tian AN Australia chief operating officer Hai-Young Lu said the company was pleased to “at least be a part of the consultation process”.
“Had the council’s previous resolution not been conducted behind closed doors, they would have been in a position to better understand the steps that Tian An has already taken to address their concerns which we believe would not have resulted in the action they had chosen,” Mr Lu said.
“If this motion succeeds, it would effectively be putting all of the previous State and Commonwealth environmental assessments conducted over an extended period into question and would effectively be reversing 20 years of planning and approvals that Tian An has sought and successfully secured.
“It would also be effectively denying thousands of locals important job opportunities at a time when job creation is a priority.
“It is not Tian An challenging the Shire’s efforts to change what is already approved but is, in a sense, the Shire challenging the State and Commonwealth’s approvals that we have met, secured and relied on.”
While the Shire declined to comment ahead of Thursday’s meeting, a report from the local government stated “recent scientific research has demonstrated that ecological health and water quality in the Estuary are at concerning levels, with further degradation likely in the future due to the drying climate”.
The report also stated that without a “transformational approach” to management, further decline in rainfall and would likely see the system collapse, “taking with it the estimated $3.35 billion of economic value to the region”.
“Despite requests for confirmation made with a range of State Ministers, that the State will take responsibility for ongoing management of the channel, this has not been forthcoming and this is well beyond the Shire’s financial and workforce capacity to accept,” the report said.
The Peel Harvey Catchment Council has led community efforts against the proposed marina.
Council chair Caroline Knight said the group supported the Shire’s previous decision and hoped it would be reaffirmed.
“Preserving the health of the Peel Harvey estuary is not only important environmentally, it is also has significant economic value to the region,” she said.
This article was originally published in the Mandurah Coastal Times on June 23, 2020.