22 June 2008

ActewAGL don't get it!

| miz
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Has anyone else noticed that ActewAGL may be getting a teensy bit paranoid about the gas station proposal? They keep wanting to have ‘little chats’ with, for example, the Canberra Times here and the Planning Institute here (CT letter from ActewAGL CEO, John Mackay).

I guess it’s not easy getting people to agree that a smog-exhaling, whining monstrosity plonked on a horse paddock near homes in a couple of valleys (one subject to a well-known inversion phenomenon) is a fabbo idea for Canberra.

Surely there is land available where they can follow their peak power dreams without pissing off Tuggers and Wodes?

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miz; i’d say the reason why stanhope “resolutely refused”, your words; not the ones i would use in describing that interview, to answer a yes/no question about an enviromental impact study was because the new plant is small enough not to autmatically need one; (the cut off is 30 something or others; the new plant produces 28); stanhope was probably just keeping options open so that if there is enough community desire for an EIS then he can say yes without already having a ‘no’ already on the public record. An EIS mave prove politically necessary, 28 sounds a lot like deliberately being just under the cut off and the whole issue already being blown out of all proportion.
As to wether or not the consultation was “disingenuous at best, deceitful at worst” i dont think it was, it was extended to a longer than normal process and various events (community forums etc) where either put on or attended by actew; this consultation process has been more than fair.
I think alot of where your (and others) percieved problems with the process comes from is that you care a lot about the issue (people who dont care generally dont consult)and have thought it through yourself and come up with what you beleive to be the best result, and so you turn up believing that once you’ve had your say everyone will agree with you and that’ll be that. However 150 other people also do this along with 150 pro-powestation people. The point of consultation is to get your voice heard and listened to, not just to get your own way. This point is not just specific to the powerstation but to just about everything that goes to consultation, i read in todays paper that this happening with regards to school sites; just as it did with tharwa bridge; school closures; the GDE and a million other projects.
consultation is part of the process, not the process in its entirety. In the case of the powerstation i’d think that the consultation process has gone quite well for those against the powerstation; i dont think there is a soul alive who isn’t aware that macarthur residents have concerns about the plant.

sepi; i dont think your comment is factually accurate; the would have been a health assesment on the larger plant as its part of the approval process. Period. If there is an assesment done on the samller plant it will be done because of community concern not necessity.

pandy; dont think i’ve forgotten you, I’m just not dignifying that comment with a resposne.

Tom-tom I don’t have that much faith in this govt’s ability to keep us safe either.

Deb Foskey recommended a health assesment of the power plant when it was at it’s largest planned size. Jon Stanhope said there was no need.

No Katy G is doing a health assessment of the smaller plant – why then??? Just because the community suddenly started doing their own research and found some disturbing facts?

Clown Killer8:56 am 23 Jun 08

To my mind, the dismissal of the block of land opposite the Gull servo, which would impact on virtually no-one, has not been adequately explained by ACTEW. Hints of potential Aboriginal heritage appear to be red herrings to short circuit discussion.

I think that the issues surrounding the Aboriginal heritage sensitivity at that site were more about timing. Proper archaeological assessment of that site could take 3-6 months to complete and would add significant cost, whereas the site they ended up chosing, did’t pose those time constraints.

Tom-Tom: downsizing? The guys from ACTEWAGL as so INCOMPETENT that THEY pulled the pin when they said that the size of the pwoer plant was not BIG enough to make it COMMERCIALLY VIABLE. Capice? They need a 500 Megawatt power plant. Tell me Tom-Tom are you against spending another $50-$100 million building a high voltage transmission line from Willamsdale?

Sonic heads ACTEWAGL simple as that. No doubt they wont call it a power station when it is built but the “The John Stanhope Centre of Coolness” just like they dont call a jail a jail so as to defuse protests.

Tom-tom, so glad you have faith in the ACTPLA process! – I note, however, that Mr Stanhope recently refused to answer a simple yes/no question about the need for an environmental impact statement on Chief Minister Talkback (ABC 666, last Friday morning). I found this concerning. And as a local I also found the consultation process disingenuous at best, deceitful at worst.

i think that there are three main issues concerning the powerplant; an environment/health issue; an aminety issue and a role of govt. issue;

on the environmental/health issue; i think this is a bit of a storm in a tea cup; if the plant was unsafe there is no way it will be built. simple as that. this is why we have ACTPLA to investigate these things. I think those against the power plant need to stop pushing this ‘smog-exhaling, whining monstrosity ‘ type of argument. If the plant is as dangerous and unsafe as they claim it will simply not get approval, end of story.

on the aminety issue; again i think this is blown out of all proportion; there was a consultation program put in place and this was utilised by residents; it was even extended when the nimby’s complained they hadn’t had enough time (just for the record when the nimbys start whinging about labor not listening to them, i’ll remind them it was barr and gentleman who were instrumental in getting the consultation period extended)
further to this issue are the benefits of the power station; a reliable source of power for canberra; 200 jobs; billions of dollars of investment etc…
I’m not saying outright that the benfits outweigh the costs, (i personally think they do, but i dont make the decisons) but that there are benefits to the project; not just the cost of a marginal amount of aminety for macarthur residents.

finally on the role of govt issue; in my opinion it is a fundemental role of govt to encourge projects like this while protecting residents from any negative consequences; i think labor where doing this by being quietly supportive while still letting ACTPLA do their job.
on the other hand i think the libs role has been an absolute disgrace; they have interfered with the planning process in a manner i find absolutely unforgivable, there interferance has led to the downsizing of the project at significantly cost to the community.

Miz – I would be fairly close to the site, a short walk even for my aged legs. But I do enjoy having electricity.

Call me excessively trusting, but I know nothing about what makes somewhere a god place for a power station of any kind. Nor, I suspect do many of those objecting. (The “clean air” thing being an example – have these people not seen the pall that hangs over Tuggers when the back-to-nature open fire fools do their thing?. Far worse than a burned gas residue).

Build the fracker at Williamsdale. I am sure most Canberrans would be prepared to pay to build a transmission line from that spot to Canberra. ACTEWAGL just want a cheap option and frack the residents.

VicePope, yes – I think Actew wants (and probably ACT needs) an XXL sized power station – but neither the original nor the scaled down version should go on the land Actew are clinging to like foolish limpets.

They want THAT spot, it appears, ‘by hook or by crook’, as they regard the access as convenient and therefore cheaper (read, ‘we have already told lots of investors how much it will cost and don’t want to look like idiots’). Except, perhaps cutting their losses on the proposed site and finding a less residential site would be smarter at this point.

While there are undoubtedly some Nimby considerations, I think the protesting community is doing every Canberran a favour. I am sure you would not want this major utility station near you! (Personally I think even the Hume sites are too close to people – all the considered sites were within cooee).

The one house I have visited in Macarthur was tiny three bedroom place with no mod cons whatsoever. Nice leafy block though.

I think the claims about Indigenous artefacts on the original preferred location are a crock too. Why did ACTPLA offer it up as an option if it was not useable??

Or was it a case of ‘we have these three blocks for you to choose from – A – not very good, B – Indigenous issues, oh and C – a lovely location in MAcarthur.

I reckon it would look good right in the middle of LBG – just dump enough dirt etc in the same spot until you can build on it.

Another good location would be coppins crossing, or down ginninderra falls way. Either way the only protests will be from cows or chickens.

Cranky – ta for being nice. There will be nimbies everywhere in this town about anything. It’s probably one of the things that discourages clever and sane people from standing for office.

What has disgusted me with this has been the grubby, naked populism of a few pollies who have hitched their wagons to this issue. The object, surely, (if we need the thing) is to get it in the right place. The right place may well be where the people with some expertise in power generation and distribution think it is. Simply saying it’s wrong because some people might have a view of the tip disturbed by a power station is, I think, silly.

I would have been amused as all get out if this had been stuck as close as possible to Jerrabombera. (And I disagree about the McMansions – those houses I have visited in Macarthur seem to fit into the class, as do most that I drive past to get to them. Some seem to leave very large footprints on very small blocks – I have a recollection that the block size was reduced after Fadden sold like expensive hotcakes. I do, however, agree about the ACTEWAGL decision to cut back the size – if we needed it XXL, we needed it XXL. If we cut back to L, we may need to build another soon).


Your posts are usually well thought out, well written and always interesting. The exception is the above. I cannot agree with your train of thought.

I can see no real opposition to the original power station/data centre apart from the location.

I dont think you can claim Macarthur has McMansions. Nice suburb, but no Fadden Heights.

To my mind, the dismissal of the block of land opposite the Gull servo, which would impact on virtually no-one, has not been adequately explained by ACTEW. Hints of potential Aboriginal heritage appear to be red herrings to short circuit discussion.

For ACTEW to throw a hissy fit and cut the guts out of the project, instead of rethinking the location, seems extremely short sighted.

Does the community need a power station? Probably yes, assuming we don’t all want to be vegetarian recumbent cycling fans of the Dalai Lama.
If we want one, does it have to be somewhere? Yes. It cannot be nowhere.
Where is the best place to put it? ACTEWAGL, which has some knowledge of these things, considered that a site a reasonable distance from Macarthur would be the go.
So what happened? Nimbies. Steve Pratt. The discovery that Zed Seselja lives in Macarthur.
Do nimbies use power? The McMansions of Macarthur use a heap of power. The nimbies would prefer to use it, but not to put up with any inconvenience. They wopuld have more credibility if they used lanterns and powered their plasmas by pedalling stationary cycles.
So where do Zed and Pratt want to put it? They won’t say, probably because it will bring out another mob of nimbies wherever they choose. And they like nimbies and want them to vote for them.
Does this mean they’ll have to find somewhere for it if they get elected? Yes, but by that stage they can work out where there are fewer potential nimbies who would otherwise vote for them. Or they can let the C(R)AP make the choice based on where their voters live or squat or have an endless round of make-believe processes until several elections hence.
So where is the best place to out it? A fair distance from Macarthur, about where it was previously intended to be.
It’s at least as cynical as Stanhope’s less than stellar management of the issue. And its probably even more gutless. A reasonable person would say “suck it up, nimbies, because there’s some form of crap within reach of pretty well eveywhere”. No-one comes out of this looking good.
I now await tirades from nimbies.

It is also easy to ignore a small number of upset residents.

But this time they have got enormous numbers of people upset, from teh surrounding suburbs and further afield.

At that point it becomes an issue of serious community concern, and even ACTEW have finally realised that. I think Jon Stanhope is yet to really get it though.

Yeah, it’s much easier to just use sensationalist bullsh!t such as ‘smog-exhaling, whining monstrosity’ miz.

If you’re an idiot, that is.

I think ACTEW thought they could do what they liked as long as they had the govt onside.

They forgot about the actual people!

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