Loophole lets signs remain

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Signs protesting Karara Mining’s application to draw water from the Parmelia aquifer will stand for longer, after a loophole was found in the town planning scheme.

Mingenew Shire in June issued a letter to about six farmers who erected signs on their property, warning them to remove the signs by July 2 or face hefty fines.

The deadline to remove the signs has since been extended by a further 30 days, after Mingenew farmer Ben Cobley pointed out that further notice was required.

Mr Cobley drew the Shire’s attention to its own town planning document, which referred to “signs for the purpose of advertising and to make an announcement”.

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The June letter said landowners were required to register these signs with the Shire, and the signs protesting Karara would not be eligible for registration.

“I had had a look at the by-laws and it is dodgy what they are trying to do, ” Mr Cobley said. “I have got the Shire to agree that they have to give us 60 days instead of 30 days notice to take them down.”

Mr Cobley has close to a dozen signs on his property protesting against Karara’s water licence application.

Steadfast in his opposition to the miner’s plans to tap the aquifer, Mr Cobley is trying to find ways to keep the signs up for even longer.

He questioned how he was contravening Mingenew Shire’s by-laws by having the signs, which he said simply expressed his opinion.

Fellow protestor Peter Horwood said he would try to keep his signs up past the August deadline.

Mr Horwood said he would look at having his signs professionally built, so the Shire would allow them.

Mingenew Shire chief executive Ian Fitzgerald said the Shire’s attitude towards the signs had not changed since the initial letter was sent out in June.

Mr Fitzgerald said landholders would still face $50,000 fines if the signs were not removed by August 1.

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