Electors divided over road project

Shire of Capel residents vote on the motions put forward during the electors meeting at Hugh Kilpatrick Hall on Friday, October 18. Photo: Jesinta Burton.
Shire of Capel residents vote on the motions put forward during the electors meeting at Hugh Kilpatrick Hall on Friday, October 18. Photo: Jesinta Burton.

An electors meeting attended by more than 300 Shire of Capel residents has highlighted the divide driven by the Bunbury Outer Ring Road project and a proposed asphalt plant in Gelorup.

Residents filled Hugh Kilpatrick Hall for the meeting on Friday evening, October 18, after it was called for by more than 130 electors.

The project, spearheaded by Main Roads and the state government, is currently the subject of an investigation by the Environmental Protection Authority and would see 26 land acquisitions and four homes demolished.

One attendee asked about how much the cost of the meeting would be to ratepayers, while others questioned council's jurisdiction over the projects, questions met with jeers from the gallery.

Principal petitioner Rosina Mogg moved several motions, calling on the local government to inform the state government that the southern section of the road should be re-routed to avoid bisecting Gelorup.

Speaking to the motions, Friends of the Gelorup Corridor spokesperson Kieran Noonan said he held grave concerns for the future of the town's natural assets, Aboriginal heritage sites and the community, if the project were to go ahead as planned.

Several attendees also spoke against the motions, stating the project had been well-researched and had been a key element of road infrastructure for more than four decades.

Others said the motions were emotive and raised concerns about the council's ability to influence outcomes on the project, saying council would be acting outside of its jurisdiction.

The project divided those in attendance, with just a handful of votes separating those for and against.

Ultimately, the first three motions were lost.

However, attendees stood united over calls for the council to reject a development application for the Asphalt Plant.

Speaking to the motion, resident Sue Chapman said the adverse effects of the proposal far outweighed any possible economic benefit and raised concerns about its proximity to residents as well as the health effects.

Again, those speaking against the motion questioned the council's authority to reject the proposal before it had seen the development application and said there could be possible legal ramifications for doing so.

The motion was carried 173 to 29.

It remains unclear exactly how the Shire of Capel council will consider this motion, as the shire confirmed that all development applications were subject to a quasi-legal process, which requires the council to consider all relevant information prior to making a decision.

In a bid to further support the move, electors called on the Shire of Capel council to develop a policy to stop heavy industry from operating near residential or semi-rural areas in the shire.

Speaking to the motion, seconder Kieran Noonan said the motion was about preserving the clean, green and pristine condition of the shire.

However, resident Petrina Prowse, who spoke against the motion, said the proposal was vague and poorly phrased and that the issue should instead be addressed during the public consultation for the current draft council planning policy.

The motion was later carried, with 105 in favour of the plan and 87 against it.

The Shire of Capel council is expected to consider the motions at a later date.