Residents of Dalton and Gunning are awaiting a decision on an extension for approval of a gas power plant revived from the doldrums in their area.
AGL has sought a two-year extension to the plant’s conditional approval that runs out on June 30. The issue is now with the NSW Department of Planning.
Residents ran a failed campaign to stop the plant back in 2012, when the project was approved by the NSW Government, but then shelved later by AGL. A new march to clean energy has seen the project revived and AGL has sought to create a Dalton Community Consultative Committee.
The Upper Lachlan Shire Council has opposed the plant and supported the community fight, although the mayor Brian McCormack says he’s personally “50/50” on the worth of the project, which will operate only as a peak electricity supplier.
Mr McCormack said since AGL announced it was reviving the project “all hell’s broken loose”. “People thought it was dead and buried and it had gone away.”
“No one knows what’s going to happen. All we know is that AGL has the land and they have put the easements in place for the project.”
“People are opposed to it because of the noise more than anything and the traffic involved in building it. Personally I’m 50/50 about as we need alternative sources of power down the track. But as a council we oppose it.”
The community group opposing the gas plant have told Dalton residents not to join the planned Dalton community consultative committee as it says the attempt to create a committee, encouraged by the Department of Planning and Environment, “pre-empts AGL’s application for an extension of time”.
It says if a DCCC was established it would only create an “illusion of compliance”.
An independent chair has been appointed to oversee the Dalton proposal.
AGL says it has responded to community concerns raised back in 2012 about the project. It says the NSW Government had agreed that “a larger 1,500MW gas-fired plant project would meet all NSW environmental guidelines, including guidelines for air quality even at this larger scale”.
“After additional investigations into groundwater (bore) sources, there was evidence that the bore water will be adequate for the project and won’t affect other bores, meaning trucking in external water supplies will not be required for the power station,” AGL says on its website.