Page 1486 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 7 May 2008

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In scrutinising the documents relating to the development application available on the ACTPLA website, the noise impact and air quality analysis appears to be superficial, to say the least. We are not experts in my office and we have no claim to be. So we are not in a strong position to question the numbers that are used to support the claims that noise and air quality impact is acceptable and whether these claims are meaningful or accurate. But assumedly ActewAGL has access to the experts and we would like to see the evidence out there so that people like me and other members in this Assembly with a responsibility to the ACT community can consult them and feed back our findings to the community and make reasonable assessments of development proposals like this.

Are other MLAs equally concerned? It is well known that the Tuggeranong Valley suffers from inversion layers and, consequently, air quality problems, particularly in winter, that are worse than anywhere in Australia, except perhaps Launceston. That is why the ACT government makes a financial contribution when people trade in their slow combustion stoves.

We notice that the plume assessment, which appears to be the documentation attached to the proposal to demonstrate acceptable air quality impact, gives a range of figures that come in just under the maximum allowed by the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority. It uses information regarding air quality and average conditions from Wagga and, more locally, from Canberra Airport. It does that without discussion of any ambient air quality in Tuggeranong in winter, when people have their fires going, for example?

There is no supplementary information or perspective from any health experts or authorities, and the letters that I am getting indicate that health issues are one of the major concerns. These concerns cannot be dismissed without good evidence. People cannot just be told that there are no problems; they have to see the empirical data and the experts’ conclusions.

The noise impact analysis is based entirely on information provided by the manufacturer. There is no reference to similar installations in other locations. It makes people suspicious—if they are not being told everything, then something is being hidden, and why is that? It may be that nothing is being hidden, but these are the kinds of things that should have been considered by the proponents when they put forward the proposal.

One of the Macarthur residents gives a compelling example of noise issues at the gas-fired power station at Alice Springs. In the end, after the expenditure of considerable sums of money on unsuccessful attempts at noise abatement, the facility was moved 25 kilometres away. This is a concern. I am aware that the proponent has rejected this example, arguing that this is a case of comparing apples with oranges. The lesson of Alice Springs, however, is that whatever the fruit the greengrocer can get it wrong. I think with major installations such as this we would want some other independent assessment considerations of major impacts, such as likely noise impact.

I note also that neither the development application nor the preliminary assessment explores the range of possible sites for this facility. Is there an argument why this site

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