Lime quarry bid sparks opposition

Gareth ThomasAlbany Advertiser

A proposed lime quarry on the Nullaki peninsula that its proponent promises will slash the cost of lime for growers across the region has drawn the ire of nearby residents and business owners.

Businessman and Nullaki landowner Graeme Robertson has submitted a licence application to the City of Albany to extract lime from his Eden Road property.

The current licence application is out for public comment but is similar to a proposal submitted by Mr Robertson in 2010, which was ultimately rejected by the City council.

The new application would include extraction of 20,000 tonnes a year amounting to about 10 truck movements a day, with a longer term plan to mine 50,000 to 100,000 tonnes annually.

“At 50,000 tonnes that would equate to 10 laden truck movements per day on average [six days per week],” the application states.

Mr Robertson said the quarry would be operational for a period of about 10-12 weeks each year from January to April.

The application includes a letter from Department of Agriculture and Food land use planning and policy manager Tim Overhue which outlines the growing need for agricultural lime to combat soil acidity, a major degradation problem across the south coast region which costs WA about $498 million a year.

“Soil acidity is estimated to cost broad acre agriculture approximately $498 million per year in WA,” Mr Overhue’s letter states.

“It is one of the few soil constraints that can be treated with appropriate management.

“Bulk lime, in the form of lime sand, crushed limestone or dolomite is currently the cheapest way to ameliorate acid soils.”

Owner of Wolfes Landing Eco Retreat James Cullen is one of a group of locals who oppose the proposal, citing concerns with potential environmental damage, impacts on tourism and decreases in land value.

Mr Cullen said the quarry was too close to an overnight camp along the Bibbulmun Track.

“Apart from the threat to ours and other tourism operators out here, the other aspect to this is it is a conservation zone that has been created,” he said. “What’s the point of a conservation zone so the unique flora and fauna is put in trust for future generations then you turn around and decide you want to put a mine on it, you’ve got to be joking.”

Eden Gate Blueberry Farm owner Andre Roy is also opposed to the application and said he was worried the lime quarry could damage his business as lime dust could blow on to his blueberries and destroy them.

In response to the opposition, Mr Robertson said there were some misconceptions over how the quarry would operate.

“It’s not a mine that does blasting, there is no noise and there is no dust and there is no impact,” he said.

Mr Robertson said he had already extracted 50,000 tonnes of lime from the site to be used as road base for Eden Road and fire-vehicle access roads on his property.

“There will always be the ‘not- in-my-backyard’ argument,” he said.

“Not one of these people that are jumping up and down now even noticed that we had done the pit.

The City’s public comment period on the proposed site is open until April 22.

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