Energy giants casts dark shadow over landowners' future
A VETERAN Darling Downs cattle breeder wants to retire with something to show for 27 years of life on the land, but says that dream has been ruined by a State Government-owned energy giant.
Bill and Lynne Dahlheimer have owned and run the Tangalooma Brahman stud on the 455-hectare property Campbell's Camp near Brigalow on the western Downs since 1987.
In 2009, they decided it was time to sell-up and retire to a smaller block near Chinchilla.
But after five years on the market and despite the efforts of eight property agents, Campbell's Camp remains unsold.
Mr Dahlheimer only has to look to the near horizon to a massive smoke stack that rises over the tree-line to catch a sight of what he believes has ruined his retirement dreams.
In 2005, just 3km from the Dahlheimers' home, the State Government-owned CS Energy started construction on the Kogan Creek power station and a coal mine that feeds the coal-fired generator.
Since it started operating in 2009, a black shadow has literally been cast on the Dahlheimers' lives.
They say their home is constantly covered in black dust, their water has been contaminated and noise from the mine - including explosions - rattles the timber walls of their homestead.
The Dahlheimers claim the power station and coal mine have devalued Campbell's Camp and sent potential buyers rushing away.
"People should be rushing to buy our property ... but who is?" Mr Dahlheimer asked.
"(CS Energy) has taken away our life savings.
"We could be made to walk off here absolutely penniless."
"They've taken our future - we don't have a future now," Mrs Dahlheimer added.
Mr and Mrs Dahlheimer believe CS Energy has at least a moral obligation - if not a legal one - to help them sell the property for what it was worth before the power station arrived.
The Dahlheimers have suggested several options, including for CS Energy to purchase Campbell's Creek or to make up the difference between the sale price and the property's market value.
But CS Energy claims it has no obligation to assist the Dahlheimers because Campbell's Creek is outside the power station's footprint and buffer zone.
CS Energy CEO Martin Moore said while the company "empathised" with the Dahlheimers' situation, there was no commercial justification or legal obligation to purchase the property.
"As a Queensland Government owned corporation, our shareholders are effectively the people of Queensland, and it is critical that we make commercially sound decisions in their interests."
Mr Moore said CS Energy had always strived to be a "good corporate citizen".
The company has monitored dust levels at Campbell's Creek, arranged for the cleaning of the Dahlheimers' home and replaced filters in the couple's drinking water.
"In each case investigated to date, it has been found that CS Energy has met all of its environmental obligations," Mr Moore said.