WAPC Basic Raw Materials, Demand and Supply Study for the Bunbury-Busselton Region

The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) have recently released the Basic Raw Materials, Demand and Supply Study (Study) outlining the current and future supplies of basic raw materials (BRM) within the Bunbury-Busselton Region.

The outcomes of the Study are proposed to be used by the WAPC in amending the Greater Bunbury Region Scheme as well as local planning schemes and strategies within that region.  The WAPC has indicated that the Study will also contribute to a review of SPP 2.4 – Basic Raw Materials, SPP 4.1 – State Industrial Buffer Policy, and an update of SPP 1 – State Planning Framework.

BRM is defined by the Study as “sand, limestone, hard rock, gravel and clay for use in residential and commercial developments”. Generally, most BRM extraction does not come under the definition of “Mining Operations” under the Mining Act 1979 and as such many BRM extraction operations are subject to development controls under the Planning and Development Act 2005.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) has estimated that an average dwelling and supporting infrastructure within the Perth Metro Area required 151 tonnes of hard rock, 255 tonnes of sand, 102 tonnes of clay and 155 tonnes of limestone including product required for road base, site works and building stone.  The Study has indicated that these figures need to be inflated when applied to the South West region which requires significantly higher levels of imported fill to meet flood and groundwater clearances.

The Study estimates that by 2030, 43,753,000m³ of sand, 30,359,000m³ of limestone, 18,973,000m³ of hard rock, 6,226,000m³ of gravel and 5,020,000m³ of clay will be required in the region.  To put this in context, the sand required by 2030 is equal to the amount of fill required to cover the Perth CBD (12.7km²) in 3.4m of fill.

The Study is critical of the manner in which development is carried out in Western Australia; namely a process which promotes limestone retaining walls, flat building sites and compacted sand pads, as well as building designs which promote concrete slabs with double brick and tile construction, irrespective of site constraints.

In light of this critique, the Study suggests the adoption of flexible planning conditions allowing for the employment of alternative building techniques, including stump construction, to reduce the need for sand fill, and limestone retaining walls in areas with groundwater, flood and other site constraints.

The Study also found that while the south west contains significant BRM supplies, many potential sites are constrained by environmental or planning factors, and existing sites are progressively being exhausted or sterilised under town site development frontiers.  The Study concludes that sand, limestone and clay supplies are becoming critically low and supplies need to be made available or set aside, close to demand areas.

Lavan Legal comment

Lavan Legal supports the proactive approach of the WAPC in identifying strategic BRM locations within the South West region.

Landowners who own land identified by the Study, or own land adjacent to the land identified by the Study, should take note of the fact that their land may contain resources critical to the continued development of the region.

In light of the outcomes of the study, the WAPC will not lightly consider land-use proposals which negatively affect the ability to extract those resources into the future.

Disclaimer – the information contained in this publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek legal advice in relation to any particular matter you may have before relying or acting on this information. The Lavan team are here to assist.