By JONATHON HOWARD
CAPTION: (CRGMeeting5) Map of line route five proposed in an interim report by the Power CRG on Thursday, 30 May.
(CRGMeeting2) Power CRG facilitator John Dengate standing before more than 30 residents during a public forum which sparked outrage after it was reveal that line route five would be the recommended power line corridor form Warwick to Stanthorpe.
MEMBERS of the Power Community Reference Group are facing a fresh barrage of complaints from landholders after the group presented its interim report to Ergon Energy.
The public meeting at the CWA hall on Grafton Street on 30 May attracted about 30 residents, MP Lawrence Springborg and delegates from Ergon.
Group representatives gave a summary of the 12-month journey and the process towards reaching their recommendation for a power line route that ensures security of power from Warwick to Stanthorpe.
The group was originally asked to assess four power line route options, but opted instead to develop a new power line corridor “five”, with guidance from Ergon representatives.
The remaining seven members of the CRG, originally 12, said they had decided on line route five because it was found to impact the least number of residents and crossed land of “lesser value”.
The proposed corridor, which could also deviate by up to two kilometres, was also the most expensive option for Ergon with an early price tag of $53 million – or $13 million more than previous estimates.
Line route five travels north of Warwick through North Toolburra and Leslie; before travelling west of Stanthorpe through Bullecourt and Canon Creek.
Although the group have recommended line route five, the final decision lies with Ergon who will now progress with resident consultations once the final CRG report is submitted on 20 June.
The group worked through the interim report at the meeting, before delegates made comments and community members fired questions.
Several North Toolburra residents, affected by the newly proposed power line route five, expressed their shock and dismay at the announcement.
They criticised a systemic lack of communication with impacted residents.
One Warwick resident said the CRG’s interim report – revealing a red line ploughing through about 66 properties – was like a slap in the face to many people unaware of the CRG’s new route five proposal.
According to concerned landholder Tony Maw, a former member of the CRG, landholders on the original four line options were warned by brochures, public meetings and visits by Ergon representatives of the impending power line proposal.
“This enabled anyone affected by these options to apply for membership in the CRG when it was formed by (MP) Lawrence Springborg and Ergon,” he said.
“Will the landholders along option five, who have not been in receipt of the above advantages, be allowed the luxury of membership of a CRG in order to protect their interests as the present CRG have been encouraged to do – in all fairness, this must be the case.”
Warwick resident, Allan Kehoe, expressed his concern for the group’s process.
“This CRG has failed to be open, honest and transparent yet it wants the community to embrace this determination,” Mr Kehoe said.
Meanwhile, proposals from local businessman Tim Lucas’s Rabbit Ridge wind, solar and diesel farm is 3km long and affects an estimated three properties, while the CRG route five recommendation is nearly 70km long and effects 66 properties.
The Wind Farm appears as a logical solution – and one that could put Stanthorpe at the forefront of Queensland power innovation.
However, Ergon delegates said the Wind Farm proposal would need to meet the same strict guidelines as Ergon’s power line proposal, which includes independent assessments and business modeling before it would be considered.
See Page 15 for more.