Albany’s council has given a strong indication it will approve changes to the conditions of its Great Southern Lime’s Nullaki mining operation despite the community’s continued concerns. At Wednesday’s Development and Infrastructure Services Committee meeting, elected members backed four officer recommendations, which will be carried forward to the ordinary council meeting later this month. Two of the recommendations were adopted unanimously. These were to alter the company’s reporting deadline, and the number of allowed movements from a maximum of 14 a day to an average of 14 a day. The other recommendations were to allow for the creation of a stockpile at the base of the site’s hill and to increase the site’s annual operating period. They were endorsed 6-3, after Crs Stephen Grimmer, Lynn MacLaren and Malcolm Traill voted against them. Speaking in favour of allowing for a stockpile, Cr Robert Sutton said he believed the City officers had done a good job of reaching a compromise. “There are wants on both sides and both sides aren’t getting everything they want,” he said. “I’ve got to commend the City on how they’ve balanced this because what gets it over the line for me was that last comment that if the government department doesn’t give clearing approval for the stockpile then it all falls over anyway. “We’ve been in a difficult position from day one when we knocked (GSL’s original development application) back and the SAT (State Administrative Tribunal) then said ‘yes’.” Albany Mayor Greg Stocks said the requested change was reasonable given that “a third party . . . has said conditions on that site are now unsafe”. “If you take into account the sum of all parts, the importance of agricultural lime, the reduction in emissions and our responsibility to the community for sustainable economic development, these variations are very reasonable,” he said. Cr Delma Besjou said there had been nine months worth of consideration based on “balance and compromise” and that she believed the significant benefits outweighed the potential environmental impact. Cr Grimmer declared impartiality on the item at the start of the meeting because he had been part of a group that opposed the operation’s original development application. He told the committee he accepted the SAT decision but did not understand why the stockpile under consideration was bigger than that included in the original application before it was removed from plans. “The problem I have is the recommendation is going to result in an even larger stockpile than was originally applied for,” he said. “It was applied for 2ha and now we would be allowing 2.5ha. “I think this needs to be looked at by someone independent from a safety and productivity point of view.” Cr Traill and Cr MacLaren both said they did not have enough information on the extent of the environmental impact to back the changed conditions. “I would like to see this go through, but with better assessment, a better access route, better fire mitigation and broader more independent environmental reporting,” Cr Traill said. Voting on the agenda item came after councillors spent more than 30 minutes seeking further clarifications about the recommendations from City officers. Councillors raised questions about the impacts of dust and sound, road safety, proximity to the Bibbulmun Track and the eventual rehabilitation of the site. Cr Grimmer asked how it appeared nobody had raised concern about the 18-degree gradient of the internal haulage road up the site’s pit before it was assessed unsafe by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety earlier this year. “Surely somebody was responsible for checking the safety of that gradient,” he said. The concern raised by DMIRS led the to pit shutting down in March as GSL could not verify all third-party vehicles collecting lime from the top of the hill were fit for purpose to do so. During public question time earlier in the meeting, GSL director Graeme Robertson told councillors it was those safety concerns that had led to the requested change of conditions. Several residents living near the Nullaki operation also took the opportunity in question time to express their concerns about what expanding the conditions could lead to and urged the councillors to make sure things were done right. The committee’s recommendations will be carried forward to the December 19 ordinary council meeting, where a final decision will be made. Cr Grimmer foreshadowed he would look at making an amendment to one of the recommendations to limit operations within the pit would be limited to eight months rather than throughout the year. Mr Stocks also suggested a potential amendment to impose a maximum limit on the number of movements per day as a way of limiting road safety concerns raised by the community.