Page 1487 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 7 May 2008
and no other? Mention is made of sites looked at in the past when the proposal for a gas-fired power station was first mooted. Mention was made that on this occasion other sites were offered, but this one was preferred. But there is no comparative analysis of those possible locations for the public to see and form a view on. That is one of the key differences between a full environmental impact analysis and what used to be known as a preliminary assessment. An environmental impact analysis considers the costs and benefits of a development not going ahead and of it going ahead in a different location.
I would also like to put into the mix the briefing that I and members of my staff received from the proponents some time ago. That briefing was not so much about a power station—rather about more efficient and profitable data storage facilities. Let us not forget that the data storage facilities are the justification for the power station.
As I mentioned earlier, at that time in their talks with me and my staff the idea of solar electricity generation was bandied about. In the interests of doing our best to combine greenhouse gas reduction with new industry I would hope that we could at least explore the possibilities that this project offers for silent, non-polluting, renewable energy generation. We talk about being leaders. Well, we are not leading with this one. It seems clear to me now that there are other reasons that ActewAGL wants to set up a gas-fired power station here in the ACT. Powering the data storage facilities is only one element. An emergency source of power for the ACT is another.
While gas power is certainly better than coal, it is not better than any of the other renewables that are hardly explored in the ACT—solar, for instance, and gas is a finite resource just as oil is. I note that Mr Barr’s proposed amendment commends ActewAGL for proposing a gas-fired power station rather than a traditional coal-fired power station. Hang on. It is only better than coal-fired power or oil-fired power. It is not better than many of the other options available to us.
Clearly this project has evolved, but not openly and transparently. Part of the distress has been the surprise to local residents of this development. It has been promoted as a development at Hume. It is, in fact, in the district of Tuggeranong and it is on Mugga Lane. Arguably this is still within the industrial and employment corridor that ACTPLA has been promoting. Perhaps it is not. I would have thought that this kind of facility needs to be located right out of reach of residential areas—remember the 25-kilometre move from Alice Springs—or well within an established industrial zone. I understand from the development application that there are good reasons for this facility to be in an area by itself, in which case, then, the social impact of locating it this close to the suburbs and the potential impact of other developments needs to be considered openly.
Now that this incident has popped up into our wider consciousness maybe a community-wide discussion on developing an industrial employment corridor will be more concrete. Last year ACTPLA announced that it is conducting such an inquiry, and I wonder how this power station fits into it. I would have liked to see that both hands at ACTPLA knew what the other was doing. I should acknowledge that the preliminary assessment documentation on ACTPLA’s website is easily available. My view, however, is that the information needs to be drawn together with a more explicit