REVIEW OF AGRICULTURAL LIME SAND
REVIEW OF AGRICULTURAL LIME SAND
HEAVY HAULAGE ROUTES 1 AND 2
22 June 2002
27 July 2002
Productive agriculture is an acidifying process. Soils gradually
become more and more acidic as alkaline products in the form of grain,
hay or grazing pastures are removed. If no remedial action is taken
then the result will be declining crop productivity levels in the
Wheatbelt region. Soil acidification can be successfully counteracted
through the application of lime sand. Advice received by the Department
of Agriculture Western Australia indicated that between 1.0 and 5.0
million tonnes of lime is required annually to address ongoing
Lime sand is natural to sections of Western Australian coastal
areas, with large deposits in the vicinity of Lancelin and Cervantes.
There is a need to move this resource to inland Wheatbelt areas. This
transport task is predicted to reach levels in excess of 400,000 tonnes
per annum from the Lancelin area by 2007.
Concerns had been expressed by residents of Toodyay regarding future
heavy haulage transport of agricultural lime sand along Route 1. The
Government gave a commitment to undertake a consultative review to
determine whether Route 2 offered a better option for the cartage of
lime sand through the Wheatbelt region.
The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure decided to carry out a
review with the following objectives:
- ensure wide community representation / participation by
those communities impacted by the routes as well as industry, state and
local government representatives;
- consider the social, environmental and economic impacts of Routes
1 and 2 using a multi-criteria assessment1
that is inclusive, transparent and accountable;
participants to understand the issues from different perspectives and
reach agreement on plans for the lime sand road haulage task from
Lancelin; and recommend investment priorities to the Minister for
Planning and Infrastructure.
Multi Criteria Analysis Conference
A Multi Criteria Analysis is a decision-aiding technique to analyse
alternatives to complex problems using weighted triple bottom line
criteria that are developed by all stakeholders. The end result is the
'best fit' option.
The process is systematic, structured, open and accountable. It
engages all key stakeholders with their differing objectives. Both
technical data and value judgements are used to reach a preference.
The MCA process has four key components:
- A set of alternative options
- A set of criteria for comparing the alternatives
- Weighting to attach a measure of importance to each criteria
- A method of ranking the alternatives based on how well they
satisfy the criteria
The process involves four key steps:
- Preparation and involvement of the community from the start;
- An initial Forum of all participants to determine the options and
Expert Panel to oversee the quantitative data and to rate the
qualitative data, with both sets of data being input to a specialised
- A second Forum of all participants to
weight the criteria according to their importance. Using both the
quantitative and qualitative data, together with the value judgement
weightings, the computer software determines the best options.
Prior to the 1st Forum
MCA Steering Group
A Steering Group was established consisting of community, industry
and government representatives including a representative from each of
the local shires involved. Its task was to oversee the MCA process to
ensure it was fair, comprehensive and accountable, and to submit a
recommendation of the preferred route to the Minister for Planning and
Infrastructure. The Steering Team was facilitated to help ensure that
the process remained on track and on time.
MCA Forum Representation
Participants were selected to attend the workshops using three
Technical Expert Panel Representation
- Direct invitation to people nominated by the Steering Group
including: school bus operators, limes and cartage contractors,
environmental lobby groups, local shire representatives, farmers and
- Letters sent to a random sample of people from the electoral role
in shires impacted by the routes.
- Respondents to newspaper advertisements in the West Australian as
well as relevant industry and local newspapers.
The Expert Panel was established prior to the first workshop. The
members were selected by the Steering Group on the basis they were
knowledgeable in terms of social, economic and/or environmental issues,
capable of scoring data, as well as providing independent certification
that scoring was conducted fairly.
Information Briefing Packages
Prior to the first forum, papers were circulated, which covered the
main issues associated with the use of lime sand and transport
- Demand for Agricultural Lime Sand
- Route Planning for Transport of Agricultural Lime Sand from
- Route Planning to Meet other Transport Demands
- The Potential use of Rail
- Views from the Communities Concerned with Agricultural Lime Sand
- Views from the Communities Concerned with Agricultural Lime Sand
Cartage Route 2
The 1st Forum was held in Northam on 22 June 2002. It was attended
by just over 100 people, comprising a representative sample of members
of the communities impacted by the transport of agricultural lime sand
as well as industry, state and local government representatives.
To further inform participants, there were presentations on the
process and key issues associated with lime cartage including.
- Need for agricultural lime
- Is rail an option?
- Route planning for transport of lime sand
- Planning for other transport issues
- Communities concerned with Route 1
- Communities concerned with Route 2
Participants were then asked to discuss and develop an initial list
of criteria, which could be used in the multi criteria analysis to
evaluate the two route options.
The criteria lists were then collated and later presented to the Expert
Between 1st and 2nd Forums - Expert Panel Deliberations
The specific tasks of the Expert Panel included:
- scoring qualitative (non-numeric) criteria being used to
compare the two route options (scores ranged from 0 to 10 with "0"
having absolutely no impact through to "10" having a very high impact);
- commenting on the quality of the work done in scoring the
quantitative (numeric) criteria; and
- ensuring that the processes in which panel members were involved
were open and accountable.
Technical advice on each criterion was obtained and provided by the
Department for Planning and Infrastructure, Main Roads, other lead
agencies and individuals to enable the Expert Panel to score the
options. This advice ranged from straight costing of options through to
expert opinions and other value-based data sets.
The Expert panel either scored, or verified scores, for all criteria
over the period 16th July to 22nd July. Some reduction in the number of
criteria occurred where it was felt there was clearly duplication.
The 2nd Forum was held on 27th July in Northam, and was attended by
the same 100 participants who attended the first workshop. (There was
no noticeable drop-off in participation). Participants were asked to
provide individual weights against each of the criteria. Although the
criteria had been previously examined and scored by the Expert Panel,
the participants did not know these scores at this time.
Participants were asked to develop individual weights for importance
against each criteria (where 0 = no importance at all to 100 =
absolutely critical). These weights were then submitted to computers
and analysed by the MCA software.
Participants were also asked to nominate which aspect of the 'triple
bottom line' (economic, environmental, social or all of the above) they
felt they most represented.
To ensure that there was no bias as to the numbers of people
representing each of the four interests, the weights for each interest
group were averaged and then the averages
were averaged. This process ensured that the final average weights were
not dominated by larger interest groups.
The scores obtained from the Expert Panel were combined with the
weights submitted by the participants and analysed by a program
developed in the US called Logical Decisions2.
(This program was considered to be the best for analysis of complex
problems of this type.)
These results were immediately projected back into the room on a
large screen, and the outcomes were discussed.
The final analysis clearly indicated that Route 2 was preferred over
Route 1 by a significant degree.
Following 2nd Forum - Final Report
In the final report to Government, the Steering Group recommended
The government commences work to develop Route 2 as quickly as
possible in line with the expressed preferences of the local
communities, local governments, representative groups and industries.
By engaging in a comprehensive exploration of issues and views of
stakeholders, the communities involved were able to develop a better
understanding of the wide-ranging issues associated with the future
transport of lime sand along Routes 1 and 2. The debate moved from
emotional lobbying of particular positions, to a careful analysis of
the component parts of the problem, greater understanding of the
complexities, and seeking a resolution.
Although not all participants were pleased with the result, the
process was perceived by nearly all participants to be thorough and
fair. Notably, a few still expressed cynicism with the process and
Government�s commitment to act on the results.
When the issue is highly contentious and emotional, and when there
is more than one option that can be considered, the Multi Criteria
Analysis Conference is an ideal way of encouraging thoughtful
deliberation. By integrating the values and priorities of the community
with the knowledge of technical experts who are required to balance
social, economic and environmental criteria, the community and the
technical experts are able to achieve synergy in resolving the issue.
1 Multi Criteria Analysis (MCA) helps to make
strategic decisions when a number of criteria cannot be measured in
terms of a single measure such as a monetary value.
2 Logical Decisions� (LDW) is decision support
software that helps to evaluate and select the best choice for
difficult decisions. LDW is designed for one-of-a-kind decisions where
you need to think about many concerns at once and make judgements about
which concerns are most important.