Sorry for the delay folks in getting this update to you as Danny was very weary by the end of the week and a bit tired and emotional as there were many heartfelt passionate pleas from normal folk like us. It took a couple of days to return to sanity so apologies for the delay. You may already know that the Chair/Kathy Mitchell wasn’t able to make it to the Friday session so it was chaired by Nick Wimbush.
There were 14 presentations for the day including Environment Victoria / VFF/Cardinia Ratepayes and Residents Assoc/National Trust/Friends of the Earth/Westernport Swamp Landcare/ Surfing Victoria/Friends of the Koalas/Bird Observation and Conservation Foundation/Pakenham Racing Club/Astronomical Society of Victoria/Phillip Island Conservation Society/Friends of Wonthaggi Heathlands/Horticultural Peat Farmers Group/Westernport Bird Observation and Conservation & finally but very importantly Bass Coast Regional Health.
Environment Vic & Friends of the Earth raised many issues that were clearly outside the terms of the inquiry but they felt they needed to be made anyway and they are very disappointed that the issues of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions weren’t dealt with properly in the EES and the whole issue of the offsets is deliberately murky and likely will be very easy to lose the issue of the renewable offsets in the wider state and national issues. Environment Vic put forward a clear recommendation that contractors should be required to purchase and surrencer RECS (Renewable Energy Certificates) on a per annum basis that are then extinguished and never to be used or traded again. That is, no double dipping allowed like they did in Western Australia. This option of course is only if the plant cannot be powered directly by renewable energy. Also raised issue that the one and half million tonnes of GHG produced during the construction period has not been addressed for offsetting at all.
Now they did however say that Environmen Vic was “resigned” to the fact we might get the plant but they fully support the community campaign to stop it being built, but, if it is to go ahead it should be smaller and have the flexibility to be powered up or down to reduce the power requirements. They also took the opportunity to highlight the irony of building an energy hungry plant to deal with water shortages accelerated by climate change. Nick Wimbush did say that the Inquiry would be considering how the offsets are done in their deliberations so we wait to see their recommendations.
The Victorian Farmers Federation presented and again focused on the issue of above ground power lines and argue that the farming community has to incur a disproportionate share of the impact of this infrastructure. Danny wonders what they think the Bass Coast community is wearing as a proportion of this project??? They covered the range of issues re the impact on farming and practices, the Kooweerup swamp area and the PCN issue. They also raised the issue that if recycled water were to be taken from Eastern Treatment plant to the Latrobe Valley they would be looking to take 20GL on the way through and the above ground power lines would restrict their ability to access this water.
Other highlights included:
booster pump station assessments were done for the wrong location
extremely rare for the National Trust to get involved but felt they had to given the significant impact this could have on landscape values of the area and there should be real quantitative assessments done that take community sensitivity into account for industrialising the coastline
no adequate assessment of impact on roadside vegetation and their impact on safe corridors for native fauna & impacts on koala must be taken into account and mitigation methods in the EES are inadequate
impact of the natural flooding of the site and the opening of the Powlett to protect the site will have impacts on the snipe and haven’t seen any proposals as to how this would be handled.
Lighting of construction site will disorient birdlife and attract insects which could alter the mix of birdlife that comes to the area
Impact of construction on hooded plovers / orange bellied parrots and impact of dogs at the site
Power line route runs smack bang through the middle of the new Pakenham Racing Club track and completely buggers up their proposed build
Night light pollution must be considered by the Inquiry as it is pollution that doesn’t get considered in the EES
Numerous listed flora and fauna species have been omitted from the EES and the work needs to be redone
Peat soil cannot be returned in its original condition when it has been excavated for the pipeline and all that land will be lost to the farmers and the flow on impact it will have
There is not enough emergency department space to cater for a construction of this size and it is questionable as to sufficient lead time to bring the hospital up to speed.
Danny was really concerned re state of the health situation in our area but this is nothing new as we all know!! That’s all folks and on to the start of the new week of a full 5 days of hearings including Wednesday 29 October the WATERSHED day and come along one and all!