Denmark Shire Council votes to lodge formal objection to Denmark exploration licence

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The exploration licence application area.
Camera IconThe exploration licence application area. Credit: Supplied

The Shire of Denmark council will lodge a formal objection to a pending exploration licence in the Shire and request that the objection period be reopened.

Cr Donald Clarke put forward a motion at Tuesday’s meeting, asking the Shire to formally object to the pending exploration licence submitted by United Funds.

The application covers an area on the southern side of South Coast Highway between Parker Road in the west, McLeod Road in the east, and Scotsdale Road in the north.

United Funds submitted its application for an exploration licence last May, with the objection period now closed.

The application is currently with the Perth Mining Registrar, which would make a recommendation for the Minister for Miners and Petroleum to consider.

“Although the period for formal notice of objection has closed, the opportunity still exists to lodge a formal notice of an objection that the Warden may receive, if they determine reasonable grounds for the late notice,” Cr Clarke said in the report.

“Community members have been seeking a general re-opening of the objection period by the Warden.

“This would allow all those in the community with objections to have a voice.”

Cr Clarke’s notice of motion requested that Shire chief executive David Schober convene a briefing of councillors to determine if there should be a policy position on mining and tenement applications in the shire.

It also requested that the Shire lodge a formal notice of objection to the warden and issue a request for a re-opening of the objection period to allow landholders in the area and other community members to lodge submissions.

Under WA mining regulations, notice is required to be served to the local government and landowners within 14 days of lodging an application, according to the report.

According to the Denmark Environment Centre, no landowners were served with notice of the exploration licence.

Cr Clarke said the Shire did not lodge an objection because it could not find any grounds for objection at the time.

“In the discussed instance, the Shire did not lodge an objection to the Warden but responded to the proponent United Funds Ltd with concerns regarding any future mining in the area from a Shire planning perspective,” he said in the report.

“A planning response was considered appropriate as mining exploration is a low-impact activity, and there were no planning grounds for objection.”

There were no objections received from Denmark residents during the objection period, according to the report.

“No objections to the application were received from the public, who only became broadly aware of the application in late February 2022, months after the objection period closed,” Cr Clarke said in the report.

“While not lodging an objection, the Shire communicated a number of concerns to the proponent regarding the area to be explored.”

Cr Clarke said the concerns with the exploration licence included the proximity to the Irwin Inlet and foreshore reservation, vegetation and creek lines in the area, high landscape values that “required protection” and a number of reserves.

“There has been longstanding community opposition to mineral sand exploration and mining in the Denmark region,” he said in the report.

“This is motivated by the wish to protect the region’s natural environment and the community’s quality of life.”

In response to the motion, Shire officers said concerns about mining impacts were not valid because a mine was not being proposed.

However, officers agreed to lodge an objection on other grounds.

“Officers deem that this requires a notice to be issued to owner and occupiers of the affected land, and it is officers’ understanding that landowners in the affected area have not received a notice,” they said.

“Officers consider an appropriate response being to write to the mining registrar, notifying them of local government concerns that the provisions of the Act have not been met.

“Therefore, refusal should be recommended . . . Officers recommend that the motion provide a detailed explanation as to the nature of the objection.”

Officers also supported the call to write to the warden and request the reopening of the object period.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of Cr Clarke’s motion.

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