Court overturns feed mill approval for Wanneroo poultry producer

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As part of its agreement to relocate from its Wanneroo Rd premises Inghams Enterprises wanted to build a $24 million feed mill in Muchea.

WANNEROO poultry producer Inghams Enterprises will not be able to build a feed mill on a Brand Hwy lot in Muchea after a court ruling overturned its earlier development approval by a joint development assessment panel.

But another part of Inghams’ plan to relocate from Wanneroo is continuing to progress with the poultry producer gaining approval on April 15 from the Mid-West/Wheatbelt Joint Development Assessment Panel for a form 2 amendment request for its hatchery on Lot 6 (1051 ) Coonabidgee Rd, Muckenburra in the Shire of Gingin.

In May 2017 Inghams said its existing facilities at 1040 Wanneroo Rd – a 40ha site close to the Wanneroo town centre –  would be relocated with a new state-of-the-art feed mill to be built at Muchea by 2020 and a new hatchery established at a then to be determined site.

Inghams then sold its Wanneroo land on a lease-back arrangement as it prepared to relocate.

But after the Mid-West/Wheatbelt Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) in August 2019 approved development of a $24 million feed mill on Lot 1809 on Brand Hwy, Muchea developer Harvis Capital applied for a judicial review and on June 11 Supreme Court Justice Jeremy Allanson delivered his decision, which has overturned the JDAP’s approval of the proposed development.

Harvis Capital has about 105ha of land in the Muchea industrial park, which was identified for proposed industrial development in the Western Australian Planning Commission’s Muchea employment node structure plan (2011).

In its application to the Supreme Court, Harvis Capital said the JDAP had exceeded its jurisdiction and made an error of law by purporting to grant development approval of the feed mill, in circumstances where the corresponding development application, properly construed, proposed either an industry or an industry-light land use for the purpose of the Shire of Chittering local planning scheme No 6 (scheme), which would make the proposal prohibited within the agricultural resource zone and legally incapable of receiving development approval.

The Shire of Chittering had recommended approval of the Inghams’ development application for the 64ha lot.

The proposed development, was summarised as a monogastric animal feed mill with a total building area of 3980sqm within a total development area of 36,743sqm including the feed mill, hardstand areas, stormwater pond, waste water evaporation basin, landscaped areas and internal access roads.

The feed mill building would have been able to be to a height of 44m and clad in non-reflective Colorbond material.

It would have used grains sourced in WA (wheat, barley, oats, lupin, and canola seed) and soyameal, canolameal, meatmeal, millrun, and bloodmeal (all being milled by‑products, with all but the soyameal processed in WA) for storage and processing, milling into pellets (animal feed) and dispatching to Inghams’ customers.

The proposed development also included six big silos, with a further four possible future silos, which could have formed part of a future application.

Lot 1809 was zoned agricultural resource under the Shire of Chittering’s local planning scheme but the proposed use was industry‑rural with industry-rural not a permitted use in the agricultural resource zone unless the local government exercised its discretion by granting development approval.

In his decision Justice Allanson after setting out the objectives of the local planning scheme the officer’s report said the development of a feed mill was considered appropriate in the agricultural resource zone as it generally did not conflict with those objectives and promoted further intensive agricultural operations by producing animal feed.

He said the development was designed to enable the balance of Lot 1809 to continue to be used for agricultural purposes and contain any impacts of the operation to the nominated development footprint, avoiding unnecessary despoliation and land degradation.

“The fact that different products are combined and treated would not necessarily exclude the feed mill operation from being described as treating and processing rural products,’’ he said.

“But the whole operation described in the application – milling, mixing to mash, manufacture into pellets, crumbling and coating – is more than treating and processing the grains and meals.

“It is the manufacture of a separate product.

“It follows that the application for development was not a use that could be approved in the agriculture resource zone, as it was not within the use class industry-rural properly construed.’’

Inghams Enterprises was contacted for comment.

Visit the Supreme Court decision here