Supreme Court Win for Fremantle Residents

In 2005, solicitors Adele Carles and Francois Carles, on behalf of Fremantle residents, won a case in the Supreme Court against the State Government. The case centred on the 2005 clean-up of contaminated land at the former Lead Smelter site at South Beach.

Our “Save South Beach” campaign had taken a serious turn with the discovery by community scientists that the historic former lead smelter site had been at the proposed ‘Islands’ site at South Beach. We took legal action in the Supreme Court against the WA State Government to ensure that our local community had a say in the plans to remediate the lead contaminated site at South Beach. 

Despite the fact that there is no WA legislation securing resident’s rights, this South Beach case created new common law in WA. It established that local residents affected by decisions of the State Government have a legal right to be heard and to be afforded procedural fairness and natural justice by those State Government agencies.

 [Click link for the 2005 Supreme Court Case]

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of local Fremantle residents in a case bought by solicitors Adele Carles and Francois Carles in 2005

We took on this legal action to have a say on Stockland’s remediation proposal because:

  • This was the site of a historic lead smelting industry that operated for 22 years, leaving a legacy of toxic contamination at South Beach.  The State Government was not aware of this lead contamination when it agreed to rezone this site from ‘industrial’ to ‘urban’. 
  • The developer planned to excavate 75,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil, down to depths of 6 metres over a period of 8 months.  
  • Exceedences of lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, mercury, manganese, nickel and zinc had been found across whole site. Ingestion of these contaminants would pose a serious health threat and could ultimately cause diseases like cancer.
  • This is a windy coastline and our scientists said that these contaminants will blow over the beach, the children’s playground and local residents under this plan.
  • The site could have been covered to prevent the release of toxic dust and to provide peace of mind to local residents. The developer and the State Government did not agree to this condition, despite the fact that covers are routinely used overseas and interstate. 
  • There was no Environmental Impact Assessment on how this proposed excavation will impact on the dune system and the coastal environment.