Community outcry - CBH withdraws application to build bulkheads in Kojonup industrial area

Headshot of Shannon Verhagen
Grain at CBH's Broomehill site.
Camera IconGrain at CBH's Broomehill site. Credit: Cally Dupe

CBH has abandoned plans to build two giant bulkheads in Kojonup’s industrial centre after community unease reached boiling point at a meeting in the Great Southern town this month.

The co-operative planned to build two 185m x 35m open bulkheads with a combined 48,470 tonne of storage to expand its Kojonup receival site.

It had planned to build the “short-term emergency storage” structures on Thornbury Close in the town’s industrial area, sub-leasing the land for a maximum of three harvest periods from 2020-2023 to reduce the number of trucks on the road during harvest.

The motion was passed by the Shire council in September.

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However, the proposal drew ire from residents, who feared the effects the additional grain dust, trucks and the proposed facility’s proximity to the school would have on the community.

COUNTRYMAN. Yitpi wheat ready for harvest on Joy and Scott Angwin's Dongolocking property. PHOTO: DANELLA BEVIS
Camera IconCOUNTRYMAN. Yitpi wheat ready for harvest on Joy and Scott Angwin's Dongolocking property. PHOTO: DANELLA BEVIS Credit: Countryman

About 40 growers, business owners and families — several of which had submitted applications to the Shire expressing concern over the development — gathered at the town oval earlier this month to meet with CBH and plead their case.

“It’s just crazy — the grain dust is going to be astronomical,” concerned resident Nikki Miotti, who organised the meeting, said.

“There’s going to be 230-260 extra trucks loading at the new CBH, then they’ll drive down to the old CBH and get weighed and if they’re over or under they’ll go back to the new one, so that could be three or four times and that’s past the school.”

The mother of five — who suffers from severe allergies, as does her youngest child, as well as asthma — said the distance between the facility’s boundary to her boundary was just 150m, with her house 300m away.

She believed if CBH pushed ahead with it, she would be forced out of her own home.

If they go forward with this, they’re making my house unlivable for me and my son.

Nikki Miotti

Her concerns were echoed by Marika Brown, who has two children with airborne allergies enrolled at Kojonup District High School, which was only a few hundred metres away.

“I’m really concerned,” she said. “It doesn’t take a lot of digging into grain dust exposure to see it’s causing some inflammatory response.”

She said it would add to the effects the existing facility already had on the town.

The one in town is right in line with the town oval, pool and skate park. On windy days, there’s been days we’ve got up and left the pool or decided not to go to the pool (because of the dust).

Marika Brown

“I’ve gone so far as looking into the typical wind direction and I believe it could likely impact the town more than the existing site.”

Residents also expressed disappointment at the proposal remaining confidential until it was passed by the council on September 15.

Will Piercey, General Manager Albany Zone at CBH's Metro Grain Centre, Forrestfield WA.
Camera IconWill Piercey, General Manager Albany Zone at CBH's Metro Grain Centre, Forrestfield WA. Credit: Simon Santi The West Australian

CBH confirmed the day following the community meeting this month it had withdrawn the application, a promise Mrs Miotti said she was “praying that they follow through with”.

CBH general manager Albany Zone Will Piercey said the co-operative had hoped to build emergency storage to support the Kojonup site during harvest but would now work with the community on other options.

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