Broadcasting from the INQUIRY in Pakenham - Day 8
Another day focused on power with Power Grid Option Group and the Cardinia Shire pushing vigorously for either under-grounding the entire route if the northerly grid connection is pursued or further investigation of the gas fired power plant option.
According to the Cardinia Shire presentation the Bass Coast community is getting all the attention and all the benefits of having this plant in their area!!!! Yes it’s true folks the argument has been made that since we will get the additional power augmentation to the area plus some additional jobs (perhaps) then that is a great benefit to offset any downside! Now Danny doesn’t quite understand why the Bass Coast Shire isn’t entitled to decent power that isn’t always flicking off like the rest of Victoria? Danny wanted to laugh out loud at this ridiculous assertion that we are somehow getting such great benefits from this plant. It was good to see Veronica Dowman there to support all the Bass Coast residents on this issue!!
Can also tell you that Ken Smith has been there about 3 times over the last week and good that he is taking the time to attend at least.
Now the PGOG was quizzed about the apparent problems within their own group such as those in the peat area where they don’t want it underground but want it moved altogether and they did have to admit that it was a little confusing and perhaps a little bit (only a little bit) NIMBY. They did however do a good job of demonstrating that putting the cables underground was as economically viable as overhead power and did not have the level of social impact. They also emphasised just how much volunteer time and effort had to be put in to do the work the Government and their highly paid consultants should have done. Danny hears their pain and can only but agree!
PGOG argued the major flaws with the Reference project were that the Government has appeared to mislead everyone - including the bidding firms - that above ground power on the NGC (northerly grid connection) route was the preferred option and hence there was not and would not be sufficient assessment of other options that could have a better outcome for everyone. Other flaws include the complete lack of ‘real’ consultation with the community; fast tracking has robbed the EES process of proper analysis; poorly evaluated the social impacts of overhead power option; under emphasised the land devaluation issue and minimised the inefficiencies of the overhead cable as a way to provide power. The group put up their own social impact slide and made the very clear and simple point that just planting a tree doesn’t genuinely mitigate the issue and it is like paying lip service to the real and personal impact this decision is having on people. They did put up three options that they suggest the Inquiry should be looking at:
The members of the Sandcrash property that abutts the desal site put up a solid presentation for the real issues that plague them as being the nearest neighbours to this monstrosity. They expressed their real concern that the buffer had always been talked about as being 300metres but it was only when they read the final technical report that they discovered it had changed to 100m from their boundary!!! What the heck happened they asked and why weren’t they told??? All good questions Danny thought and I hope the Inquiry did as well. They raised critical issues such as the total prohibition of any construction traffic using the Mouth of the Powlett Road and particularly given the big crowds and number of children that use that road over summer. They also asked if the Inquiry can stop the pilot plant workers using that road now as they aren’t supposed to be doing that either? Probably nothing will happen there! Noise issues were raised and put up some really eye opening slides with a big red shed as the desal plant to show just how big it will be on the landscape. As big as 10 city blocks! How can you hide that Danny asks?
Jan Fleming put up a plea to again protect the hooded plovers and Beverley Walker walked them through the acid sulfate soil issue.
Then it was on to Cardinia Shire and their first expert witness who talked about the impact on agriculture of the power lines. After that the legal representative for the Shire presented and a copy of what they said is being provided and should be put up on the Watershed site if you have the strength to look over it! Day 9 on Tuesday is still Cardinia and a further three expert witnesses so its all going to be power power power! Danny hopes he can power through it as he needs it but it invigorated when he remembers that it’s only two more sleeps until WATERSHED’s day on Wednesday. The Power group filled the hall with their supporters and applauded loudly to show their support for the presenters. We need to do the same so pleeeeease make the effort to come along for one day.
Off to sleep so Danny can stay awake through Tuesday!