FIFO fence causes divide

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Gap Ridge Industrial Estate, 9km from Karratha.
Camera IconGap Ridge Industrial Estate, 9km from Karratha. Credit: supplied by LandCorp

A new 2500-bed FIFO camp proposed for the outskirts of Karratha has sparked debate but concerns are not about size and instead centre on whether an external fence should be erected around the perimeter.

The new camp would be built in Gap Ridge by Bechtel and would support the construction workforce requirements for Woodside’s proposed Pluto Train 2 development.

City of Karratha councillors in December passed a motion to support the development of the camp, subject to 25 conditions, the last of which was that “Fencing shall not be constructed along the Madigan Road frontage”.

That point was spoken against at the meeting by representatives from Bechtel, who believed complete boundary fencing was essential for their overall management strategy for the village.

A City spokeswoman said the proposed fencing was not considered a good design outcome. “It detracts from the urban landscape, site’s appearance and visual amenity of this entrance to Karratha,” she said.

The development application for the Construction Accommodation Village went before the Kimberley/Pilbara/Gascoyne Joint Development Assessment Panel on December 13. The panel chose to amend the condition surrounding the fence to read “Prior to occupation of stage one, a fencing plan shall be approved and implemented to the satisfaction of the City of Karratha”.

A Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage spokes-woman said condition 25 was amended to enable the proponent and the council to negotiate the most appropriate fencing type for the site’s Madigan Road frontage.

Bechtel social performance manager Mellissa Case said the company was committed to ensuring the proposed CAV provided a safe and healthy environment. “We remain committed to continue working with the City on designing a fence that meets the management requirements of the CAV, minimises visual impact on the community and takes into account the temporary nature of the facility,” she said.

The proposed CAV would be temporary and operate only for the construction of Pluto Train 2, which is anticipated to be completed in 2024. Once construction is complete, Bechtel would be required to remove the CAV and remediate the site.

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