The developer of the Canberra Brickworks Redevelopment in Yarralumla is being urged to drop plans to connect the new precinct to the gas network, with both the Inner South Canberra Community Council and the ACT Conservation Council calling for an all-electric approach.
Doma Group’s draft Environmental Impact Statement for the 380-dwelling development says that gas might be used in “houses/townhouses, commercial cooking and fireplaces where no viable electrical alternative exists”.
But both organisations point out in their submissions on the draft EIS that this no longer aligns with stated Government policy.
The ISCCC says Doma has indicated the ACT Government made a connection to the gas network in the tender process, but this should now be reconsidered in light of the decision to phase out gas as part of the push to cut greenhouse emissions.
The Conservation Council is concerned that the draft EIS leaves the door open to supply gas into the precinct despite the fact the ACT Climate Change Strategy sets a clear long-term direction to phase out fossil gas across the ACT.
“Now is the wrong time to be hooking up new connections – these buildings could lock in emissions from gas for decades to come and/or expose tenants to thousands of dollars of unnecessary expense to replace gas appliances as the gas grid becomes redundant,” Council executive director Helen Oakey said.
She called on Doma to lead the way by ruling out the supply of gas to the precinct and providing information to future homeowners about the advantages of going all-electric.
“There are viable electric solutions for both residential and commercial heating, hot water and cooking, including commercial kitchens and electric fireplaces,” she said.
“New homeowners and business owners can save money on running costs by installing all-electric energy-efficient appliances powered by rooftop solar panels and the ACT’s 100 per cent renewable electricity.”
Ms Oakey said the Government should speed up its timetable to phase out gas to provide certainty to the building industry.
The Government will soon legislate to stop new gas mains in greenfield developments and intends to stop new gas connections in infill developments from 2023.
Doma Managing Director Jure Domazet said the company supported the Government’s policy of transitioning away from fossil fuels and was facilitating this at the Brickworks.
He said that of the 380 dwellings permitted at the Brickworks, there are more than 300 that will not be connected to gas.
“Of the minority that have a gas connection, these owners and commercial tenants can choose if they wish to connect to gas services and select either gas or electric appliances,” Mr Domazet said.
The ISCCC submission also queries whether the works on Dudley Street and the new entry road, to be called Brickworks Way, will be enough to deal with the growing traffic from the Molonglo Valley and is calling for a new interchange as well as more public parking on the site.
It says a new bus stop on Dudley Street does not amount to the provision of public transport.
The ISCCC is also concerned about a wooded buffer being maintained between Dudley Street and the development.
It calls for as many trees as possible to be conserved on the site, particularly those that are included in the Westbourne Woods.
The ISCCC and the Yarralumla Residents Association both note the pressures on amenities and services – including the shops, Yarralumla Primary School and the Yarralumla Surgery – that the Brickworks project will bring, given it will increase the local population by a third.
If the development of Forestry Place proceeds, that figure will climb to 75 per cent.
Doma plans to build 380 dwellings and commercial tenancies on the 16-hectare site which it won the right to develop in 2017.
Comment closed on the draft EIS last week and EPSDD has published submissions.