Daily updates from DANNY DESAL broadcasting from the INQUIRY in Pakenham
Well it was again another for Danny to listen to the same comment of “we don’t take a position on the desalination plant” but don’t put those nasty powerlines through our Shire! Danny was a lot calmer today as forewarned is forearmed I suppose and the repetition has stopped it feeling like a dagger in the heart every time you hear it. Having said that Danny was a little distressed at the beginning of the day seeing the raw emotion of those directly affected with the issues and the feel that the process doesn’t seem to have a real way of addressing and helping directly with this aspect. The stress of the issue is clear on some of the submitters and understandably so.
We heard from the Longwarry & District Progress Association about the last minute advice that area that comes under Baw Baw Shire re they were included in the “option” of an alternative northerly power grid connection. The Shire reiterated later in the day how it wasn’t until mid-September that they realised their Shire could actually be caught up in the desal process so they were shocked and haven’t had time to properly evaluate the whole thing and more work needs to be done accordingly. Danny fully appreciates the real concerns of this community and they are no less valid and important than those on the coast. But Danny also dismayed as to how the issue seemed to fly over that whole community and Councils radar until that time! What did they think the crew on the coast were all up in arms about? Danny will in future look closer into the issues that other communities are trying to raise as we can all be a bit narrow in our focus. If it doesn’t affect me, do I really care??????
Anyway, the EPA doesn’t appear concerned that they are possibly giving approval for concepts of what will happen rather than what will actually happen. The notion of approving a range of options rather than the final thing has been done before but in this case the range of variations for which approval is being sought all need to be assessed so the EPA says they need to have confidence for each of the variations. They say they have identified the key bits they want the inquiry to give them advice on to be in a position to assess those variations e.g. variations on diffuser designs. They want the advice from the Inquiry as to what might be missing or is recommended! Sound strange, well the Inquiry thought so too and asked and tried to explain to the EPA what difficulties they faced as a result of this process. The Inquiry did say “there is still a lot to be resolved” and tried to clarify where it all fit in terms of responsibility. But the EPA wasn’t saying it was with them and responded that there are “further issues and info needed to be provided by the Project Company that will need to be resolved and identified so there is clarity as to how that process moves forward. That is, some issues cannot be resolved until the final project company is on board and those issues resolved.” You get Danny’s drift!
They did admit that they do require additional info on the ecological impact of some of the saline discharge and it “would” be better to have a better understanding and Kerry Blacks work from last week. It just goes to show that they don’t have all the necessary information and it is still coming in and proves the rush of this process. There is no doubt there is a focus on the design of the diffusers as the means to just about fix everything but of course we won’t know that design until the successful tender is awarded. When asked who could be responsible for any future monitoring the system is again appearing to leave it all in the hands of the successful bidder saying that “in the first instance the proponent has prime responsibility” but did admit that the EPA has a role to play! At last someone saying they might be responsible outside of the operator!
Now Danny doesn’t want to be too much of a critic but the DSE Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services that then presented pretty much said we expect and assume the current policies and protocols will be adhered to! Well done! Danny loved the level of bureaucratic speak deployed in that presentation! Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes Minister would have been proud!
Danny could go on and on about the City of Casey and South Gippsland Shire presentations but you know the drill as it’s been said till we can’t say it anymore.
The Bass Coast Landcare group gave a very impassioned presentation and made sure the Inquiry understood they absolutely oppose the planting of any “exotic” plants to be used as screening and everything should be indigenous. Great point and it was a slap to the landscape architects of yesterday who just want to plant the right size trees to cover things over. They also made the really good point of how discouraging and soul destroying this is for all the landcare volunteers who have committed endless volunteer hours and effort replanting and revegetating areas over 20 years to now find the government will simply rip them out to put in either a pipe or power line. Such actions have consequences and they need to be considered. Danny hopes the Inquiry heard their pleas as they were well made.
The Australian Conservation Foundation endeavoured to bring the Inquiry back to the basics about how the coast is managed and what is wrong with the process and decision. They also tried to encourage them to be brave and step outside their terms of reference. Let’s hope they will be brave.
Day 7 here we come and each day gets us one day closer to the Watershed day next Wednesday so Danny hopes to see as many people as possible there to show just how much the community supports this submission.
Danny continues to dare to dream!