Day 10 - WONDERFUL WATERSHED DID US ALL PROUD TODAY
The Watershed team did a great job in trying to raise so many important issues that MUST be thought about by the Inquiry in their deliberations and we should all feel proud of the community effort that has brought us this far. One has to wonder what would have happened if Your Water Your Say and Watershed weren’t there speaking out and raising all these issues? (too scary to think about really)
Danny wonders where all the Bass Coast Shire Councilors were?? Not one in attendance today at the Watershed presentations and Danny wonders why they couldn’t show up to support the community group!! If this is as much a political process as an environmental one it would have been helpful for the ‘politicians’ of local government to have supported this group. Some might think this comment is a little unfair but remember, these are Danny’s views and he has the power of the pen!
It was good to see Allan Bawden come down to Pakenham and his attendance and show of support is appreciated by Danny at the very least. Danny noticed also that the EPA visited for the expert witness presentations but then left as did one DSE person but then wandered in and out when Watershed was presenting. Make of that what you will !!
Also great that so many people could make the trip to Pakenham to show their support and that the community deeply cares about the impact of this proposal from many aspects of social impact to marine damage to climate change.
For those that weren’t able to attend Danny has taken copious notes so all can see how the day went and will get them up to the site as soon as possible after tidying them up and taking out the swear words!!
Danny also proud of the individual presenters - Nola Maxfield, Chris Heislers and David Wingfield - who argued both persuasively and emotionally as to what was wrong with both the EES and the desal plant itself. They should be loudly applauded for their efforts by everyone. Their individual presentations will be put up on the website asap for you to see and enjoy or rather dismay at the lack of information available in the EES to address these specific issues. The presentations really did put a human face on Watershed and just how much real and detailed knowledge and expertise is in the local area that will be directly affected and they need to be listened to and given equal weight to in the Inquiry’s deliberations.
Despite considerable barrister type questions Jochen Kaempf did a great job of virtually telling them that there was so much still missing from the ASR evaluations that they were running a ’severe’ risk in going ahead without considerable further modeling and assessment. His report will be made available on the site as soon as we can get it electronically as well.
It’s a short summary today and if you have the time Danny suggest you have a read of the presentations when they are available on the site as that fills you in since it was our day today.
It’s Bass Coast Council day on Thursday at San Remo and Danny is confident they will put up a strong case.
Kathy Mitchell did also make a point of saying how the Panel did value the input from the community and it will be taken seriously and thanked Watershed and its members for their significant contribution as we were an important part of this process. We can only but dream that it carries equal weight when they are writing their report to the Minister !
Danny dares to dream!
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!