Westlink responds to residents
Westlink today responded to recent concerns aired by landholders about its proposed new power plant development north of Gatton.
The project is being developed in response to rapidly increasing demand for electricity in the Lockyer Valley and South-East Queensland, driven largely by increasing uptake of air conditioning and other energy intensive home appliances such as large-screen televisions.
Key concerns for residents include the impact of the project on their health and safety, lifestyle and property values. A range of other issues have also been raised including potential impacts on agriculture.
Addressing the claims of nearby opponents, Westlink Project Director, Peter Dalton, acknowledged that some people were naturally going to be concerned about new infrastructure facilities in their community.
“Unfortunately, when you say the words “power station”, people think of a large dirty coal-fired power station, with great big cooling towers and stacks. This is nothing like that. The development footprint is less than 5 per cent of a coal-fired power station, and as a peaking generator, it would operate less than 20 per cent of the time.
“The power station would use clean burning natural gas, so there would be no odour, no visible plume and virtually no particulate emissions. Expert air quality studies demonstrate that emissions would be well below strictly regulated limits. The Department of Environment & Resource Management (DERM) has also reviewed those studies and has issued environmental permit conditions for the project.
“The development would be subject to stringent Federal, State and Local Government laws and regulations that are designed to protect the safety, health and well being of people, agriculture and the environment in general. Westlink is committed to delivering a project that complies with all relevant health and safety standards and our development application demonstrates how this would be achieved,” he said.
Westlink’s development application also includes a detailed landscaping plan designed to address visual amenity issues.
“We established early on that visual impact was a key area of concern for the community, and we are pleased we have been able to develop a plan to almost fully screen the facilities. This will include earth mounds on the southern and western sides of the development that will be planted up with native trees and vegetation,” Mr Dalton said. Page 2 of 2
The Westlink project site is located on Fords Road, Adare, across the road from the Gatton dump. The Roma to Brisbane pipeline, a gas compressor station and an ENERGEX sub-station are also within a few metres of the site.
Commenting on concerns about land values, Mr Dalton said the site was selected in part because it was next door to existing infrastructure facilities and other complementary land uses, but also because appropriate buffers and screens existed between the proposed plant location and the nearest residences.
“It’s worth remembering that the areas immediately surrounding the site are not residential. I mean we’ve got a dump, a bulk supply sub-station, a gas compressor station and the Warrego Highway within metres. The sewage treatment plant and the future Gatton North Industrial Area are also within a stone’s throw. It makes sense to locate the plant next to these facilities, both from a community perspective and because it’s efficient to make use of the existing infrastructure,” he said.
Asked about recent community opposition, Mr Dalton said that it was natural that people would scrutinise the application closely, but he hoped the debate would focus on the facts rather than unfounded fears.
“We have tried to be open and provide as much information about the project as possible. For example, we have regularly written to local landholders and other stakeholders, many of whom we have met with to discuss the project. We have also placed regular advertisements in the Gatton Star, published community newsletters, and established a project website so the public could more easily access the development application and the associated reports,” he said.
Westlink lodged a development application for the project with the Lockyer Valley Regional Council (LVRC) back in September last year. The application is supported by a range of expert technical studies which demonstrate compliance with relevant laws and regulations. Westlink has also lodged a number of detailed supplementary submissions to address LVRC and DERM information requests. DERM has subsequently issued environmental permit conditions for the project and the LVRC Planning Department is in the process of concluding its assessment. Westlink is now awaiting final approval from the LVRC.