A lithium manufacturing giant’s plan to build a 1000-bed workers camp in Binningup were quashed at a Shire of Harvey council meeting, but one councillor believes the resolution will not be the end of the saga. A line of impassioned residents filled the foyer of the Australind council chambers last Tuesday as councillors were set to decide the fate of Albemarle’s contentious workers camp plan for the seaside town. The proposed accommodation village would be built on a 144ha rural-zoned site on Binningup Road, as revealed by the company’s Kemerton site director Daniel O’Shea in May, following a struggle to find homes for its 1499 workers because of the region’s housing crisis. After a senior town planner from Perth-based Planning Solutions voiced the concerns of Binningup residents at a July agenda briefing session — a week prior — last Tuesday’s council meeting was met with heavy debate from both Albemarle and residential representatives. The first to speak against the proposal, Myalup horticultural farmer and owner of popular cafe The Crooked Carrot Joe Castro said his property would be directly parallel to the workers camp and he was concerned noise from his operations would pose an issue for workers residing at the camp. “We often operate our vehicles at night, forklifts, pumps come on all times of the night, so it could be an issue with the proposed camp next door,” he said. “One of our concerns is water quality, with a proposed sewage system approximately 100m from our dam ... having a sewage system within 100m (of the dam) could create cross contamination.” Planning Solutions managing director Paul Kotsoglo spoke on behalf of the Binningup community, expressing concerns the workers camp — planned to be built in a general farming zone — was not consistent with the rules applicable for the use of the zoned area. “We seek your consideration of the matter in front of you and a determination to refuse the proposal as it is, we submit, not consistent with orderly and proper planning, not consistent with the objectives and purposes of the general farming zone,” he said. “This land is zoned general farming, it uses something like 20ha of general farming land, which is important particularly when you see the issues around food production and food security.” Albemarle’s senior community relations adviser Erin Van Noort also spoke at the ordinary council meeting using Albemarle’s existing Kemerton plant as an example of the company’s “community investment” and outlined an increase in the global demand for lithium. “There is a strong commitment by Albemarle on local recruitment where possible, we took valuable lessons from the construction of the existing project in Kemerton,” she said. “We’ve learnt that we need to, for future investment, do things differently ... the proposed village is the best way we can manage the wellbeing of the workforce and lessen the impact on the community and tourist accommodation providers. “The Binningup site, which is on private land, uses less than 17 per cent of the 144ha property, the agriculture use that currently exist would continue around the village.” Following the deputations the decision stirred heavy debate, with deputy shire president Michele Campbell raising an alternate motion which would list the worker accommodation as “not consistent with the objectives of the general farming scheme” and recommend the application be refused. “Approval to this proposal would set an undesirable precedent for like proposals to establish on general farming zone properties across the Shire,” she said. “I have concerns around the impact the building would have on the established tuarts, I have concerns surrounding the capacity of the current reticulated sewerage and the proposed establishment of a wastewater treatment plant.” Cr Craig Carbone , who voted against Cr Campbell’s motion, said he understood the emotions of the Binningup community, but summed up the debate as a question of whether the accommodation was consistent with the ramifications of a general farming zone. “This is the Binningup limestone pit all over again, it’s going to go to (State Administrative Tribunal) it’s going to get appealed, we’re going to have to fund it — tens of thousands of dollars — and it’s going to come straight back to council,” he said. “You can vote against it and everybody can walk out of here today and feel good about themselves but you will see it come back here and you will have to put your hand up and vote for it.” Albemarle’s application was rejected by the council after a nine to one vote in favour of Cr Campbell’s alternate motion.