Daily updates from DANNY DESAL broadcasting from the INQUIRY in Pakenham

Danny growing weary! Thank goodness today was the final day of witness statements and presentations by the Government as think the plan by the Government is to simply wear us all down so we’ll throw our hands in the air and scream “enough already do what you like”!!!

But Danny says NO WAY your not going to wear us down. Maurice has also been a steady member of the audience every day and asking some great questions to keep them on their toes. The presentations today ran the spectrum of electromagnetic fields (EMF) from the power routes, the social impacts and the so-called economic benefits of the plant, pipe, power of the local, regional and state and finally on waste management assessment. Danny will tell you up front that the waste presentation excludes the saline discharge and any decommissioning of the plant as that apparently isn’t important or required for an EPA Works Approval!  Let’s just worry about that later shall we, let’s leave that for the kids to work out when they will have to deal with it!

Danny also surprised to hear that the discussion on the EMF was not about any related health issues but rather the Government “submitted” to the Inquiry that they should approach this issue by satisfying themselves that the current standards applied in Australia are satisfied rather than whether or not the standard is acceptable or not! To make sure no other issue was discussed the expert presenter was also only an ‘expert’ on the electrical engineering angles and could offer no comments on any health issues as he wasn’t qualified. Apparently however magnetic fields vary through the course of the day depending on the load they are carrying and cannot be shielded by trees and buildings but then again perhaps it could be done but it is “typically expensive”.

The economic assessment expert again tried to tell us that “positive” interactions with the community and tourists could be achieved through tourism of the desal plant! What planet are these people on! Also, there will be so much work for local tradespeople involved with the plant that even if locals couldn’t get anyone for their home work then the trades people would want to work weekends to get the extra money so everyone would be happy!  Have they tried to get a tradesperson to come on a weekend and be paid normal rates !!!!!!! But despite these claims there was much discussion about the largely temporary nature of the workforce for the plant that would come and go and even the terms “fly in fly out” was used just like a mining town. A construction workers village was mentioned so many times yet the consultants had not been to one anywhere that had been created for such a thing like this.

I don’t know how many times Danny heard that “I’m sure it can all be done if there is proper community engagement and liason and a good plan put in place”?  Dear Danny, don’t you know that community engagement is the Governments specialty? We want more more more of it as it’s been such an enjoyable experience.

Danny was also very heartened today by the numerous questions from the Inquiry members about the social impact and they were all the questions we wanted asked and they weren’t taking rubbish answers either! Danny can only hope but today was one of the more uplifting days where Danny didn’t get depressed by the end. Don’t put too much faith in the process however as no matter how good the Inquiry is, it’s still up to the Minister for Planning what, if anything, he accepts from their report.

Well, perhaps there is sunshine coming tomorrow as the Government finished their case today and we start on other groups submissions on Thursday morning and then into the individual submissions. The EPA is on so we’ll see if the Inquiry puts them under the pump re the works approval and waste disposal issues.

Danny dreams on!

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Categories: EES panel hearing reports
Posted By: Danny Desal
Last Edit: 23 Oct 2008 @ 07 14 AM

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Daily updates from DANNY DESAL broadcasting from the INQUIRY in Pakenham

Today was truly an ELECTRIFYING day at the Inquiry with 3 hours spent on the power supply options to the desal plant. Danny continues to be worried by the push from other affected groups such as Cardinia Shire and the Power Grid Option Group to either put it underground or build the gas fired power plant on site on the coast. Now Danny fully understands the call to put the power underground but to push for a power plant to be built on the coast smacks a little bit NIMBY perhaps!

Danny starting to get agitated !

Just imagine if all the resources opposing this plant had been focusing on stopping the plant being built in the first place? NO PLANT: NO POWER & NO PIPE! However its clear that the desal plant is being positioned as creating benefits to the local area including the additional power supply that the area needs anyway. Discussions included brown outs that we are all so familiar with and how this will fix it. SP Ausnet may have had plans to upgrade the power anyway but the desal plant has come in over the top so they will likely not be needed. The Agricultural scientist - Raymond Phillips - confirmed that the least impact option on agriculture would be underground and they haven’t measured “intangible” such as dislocation of homestead, or the trauma of intrusion as it’s difficult to put a dollar value on it. Something in life are priceless perhaps??? There was also an admission that perhaps the rehabilitation of land from BassGas has not been up to scratch and better control over contractors and project management could have helped!

Now Danny needs to check but the Government commitment to using recyclable energy does appear to have been further refined or maybe I just missed it in amongst the 1700 pages! The statements today were that the Government has committed to “offsetting the electricity used by the plant & water transfer pipeline” through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Further the “required RECs based on electricity consumption NOT generation“. Now if a gas plant is built and it then provides power back to the grid that is not covered by the RECs. Might be nothing but perhaps Danny was looking too hard!

Allan Wyatt - Landscaper Architect - confirmed his recommendation (which isn’t the same as the proponent’s) for installation of steel poles and not the lattice towers on all the above ground areas from Woolamai to Tynong North. They also continue to claim that you won’t be able to make out the desal plant from the “magnificent” view as you come around from Anderson roundabout. Panel member Greg Sharpley did use the term “magnificent” in his question so they do see what we all see. The usual spiel about night lighting that won’t be like what we see tonight from the sample plant and also re-hiding the plant with proper mounding around the site and trees to cover power poles. Danny did feel like the Panel was asking very pertinent questions and really gave the impression that they had seen the area and appreciate the beautiful coast as we do.

Long day not finishing until 6pm and tomorrow they are putting up 4 experts so starting earlier at 9.30am and likely to still run through until 6pm. Danny isn’t dropping off just yet though and hoping you find these updates slightly interesting. Finding the highpoints is hard as they are far and few between.

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Categories: EES panel hearing reports
Posted By: Danny Desal
Last Edit: 22 Oct 2008 @ 08 00 AM

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