Seven day public consultation period opens for controversial Smith's Beach coastal village

Open to the public: Members of the public have one week to voice their opinions on whether the EPA should undertake a new assessment on a proposal at Smith's Beach. Pictures: Supplied.
Open to the public: Members of the public have one week to voice their opinions on whether the EPA should undertake a new assessment on a proposal at Smith's Beach. Pictures: Supplied.

Members of the public have less than a week left to voice their opinions about plans to develop a coastal tourism village on Smiths Beach.

The public comment period for the proposed Yallingup site opened on Wednesday, May 4 and will close on Tuesday, May 10.

During this time, members of the public will be able to comment on whether or not the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) should assess the proposal, and to what level of assessment.

The public comments will help the EPA determine whether to undertake a new environmental assessment on a proposal to build a tourist resort, campground, surf club and residential development on the site.

It comes after the EPA provided a report with recommendations on a previous proposal for the site in 2009, which have now expired.

A new development was proposed in December by a group of stakeholders headed by property developer Adrian Fini, for the site which has historically had other developments rejected over various issues.

The EPA said it will consider the public comments in it's decision, as well as changes in "the environment, scientific or technology knowledge arising since the initial assessment".

The public consultation period was previously expected to open in March, and follows extensive public campaigning by both the developer and local Save Smiths Beach action group.

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The new proposal has received strong criticism from the Save Smiths Beach action group, over a number of planning points that they argue don't align with previous EPA requirements.

If the EPA decides not to assess the proposal, it advised that "normal development approval processes" will still apply.

However, after the state government passed planning reform laws in June 2020, developments valued over $5 million in regional areas go straight to the WA Planning Commission for approval.

This means the City of Busselton will not be able to vote on the proposal.

Save Smiths Beach Action Group spokesperson Dave Mitchell said the group called on the EPA to commit to a 'public environmental review', which is the most detailed review the EPA can undertake.

"An EPA public environmental review is crucial to ensure the developer is held accountable to the environmental rules and planning laws that apply to Smiths Beach," he said.

The group also called on the public to submit any concerns with the EPA to ensure their voices are heard.