Locals call for EPA public environmental review on proposed Smiths Beach village development

Coastal village: The proposal includes plans to build a tourist resort, campground, surf club and residential development on the site. Picture: Supplied.
Coastal village: The proposal includes plans to build a tourist resort, campground, surf club and residential development on the site. Picture: Supplied.

More than 96 per cent of public comments to the Environmental Protection Authority have called for the highest level of environmental assessment on a proposal to build a coastal village at Smiths Beach.

The week-long public submission period which closed on May 10, saw more than 2300 comments submitted to the EPA about the proposal, an EPA spokesperson confirmed.

The submissions predominantly called for a 'Public Environmental Review', the most detailed option out of four levels of assessment that could be selected by participants.

Under a public environmental review, the EPA would require the developer to undertake an environmental review and make the environmental review document available for public review.

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The EPA chair will make a decision in the coming weeks on whether or not the proposal will be assessed, and to what level of assessment.

It comes as state government planning reforms to fast-track development applications valued over $5 million were extended on Tuesday.

The reforms were first passed in June 2020, and mean that applications for large developments in regional areas will go straight to the WA Planning Commission for approval, bypassing local government approval.

The bill was initially introduced as a temporary 18-month economic recovery measure to generate economic output and employment, but it has now been reopened for July 2022 until December 2023.

In regional areas, the applicable developments including Smiths Beach will go straight to the WA Planning Commission for approval.

In deciding the level of assessment for Smiths Beach, the EPA said it would consider information such as the potential impacts, proposed management, the number and complexity of key environmental factors, and the number and merit of public submissions.

The proposal for a coastal village was put forward in December by a group of stakeholders headed by property developer Adrian Fini, and includes plans to build a tourist resort, campground, surf club and residential development on the site.

Recommendations on a previous proposal for the site had expired, and the EPA opened the public comment period to help determine whether it should undertake a new assessment with the new proposal, and to what level of assessment.

The public consultation period opened much later than expected, and followed extensive public campaigning by both the developer and local Save Smiths Beach action group, which has criticised several of its planning points.

This EPA chair's decision will be published on the EPA website.

This story Locals call for detailed EPA assessment of proposed Smiths Beach village first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.