Residents worried they'll pay for port's pollution
WITH the government in caretaker mode, action on the Draft Master Plan for the Priority Port of Gladstone has stalled, leaving potentially affected residents wondering if they'll be paying for the port's pollution.
As reported previously in The Observer, properties on Auckland Hill and Barney Point are included in the draft plan's interface precinct.
Narelle Russell, who has lived on Harbour Terrace (a part of Auckland Hill) for 20 years, says the pollution mitigation measures proposed for higher density developments will significantly restrict what can be done with the site in the future.
Hers was one of 19 submissions made to the Department of State Development in October by concerned residents and organisations.
In her submission, Mrs Russell stated "the value of properties (on Auckland Hill) lies in their potential for future development.
"The financial burden placed on any proposal by the (draft plan) destroys that potential."
A document associated with the plan stipulates any new higher density residential developments in the interface precinct must comply with conditions including "living areas, bedrooms and balconies ... (to be) located away from boundaries that adjoin development within the port industry and commerce precinct".
It states where this is not possible, windows, doors and balconies must be screened, where necessary incorporate air conditioning, double-glazed windows and double brick walls to minimise odours and emissions from industry activities beyond the port boundary.
In other words, future owners looking to develop, will have to pay to mitigate against the visual, air and sound pollution generated by port activities.
Mrs Russell said this could make a new development cost nearly twice as much. Her husband, a retired builder, backs her up.
"Nobody is going to buy a property here with all these extra development costs when they can go down and buy a property in Auckland St that has no restrictions," she said.
Mrs Russell believes "it is up to Gladstone Ports Corporation to implement world's best practice to suppress all forms of pollution. This will address the issue".
She says the future saleability of her property is at risk.
"The mere fact that our properties are included in the draft plan is already having a detrimental effect on our property values and social standing."
A spokesperson from the Department of State Development, the authors of the plan, stated that "the standards included (in preliminary documents) would not apply to dwelling houses, i.e. detached houses".
But Mrs Russell said this is not the point, the issue is the restrictions placed on higher density residential properties.
A public forum was held in Gladstone on September 11 to discuss the draft plan and residents of Auckland Hill attended this meeting.
Mrs Russell said it was only after media attention that Gladstone Ports Corporation notified residents included in the draft plan interface precinct of the fact that their properties could be affected and only one week prior to the submission period closing.
Mrs Russell said three representatives from the Department of State Development attended the forum.
"They actually said they could see no reason why we were included in the interface precinct," she said.
The spokesperson from DSD said "it is important to note that these proposed measures are draft only and have not been decided".