Tuesday, June 26, 2012

NSW Shire Councillor Seeks Advice

The view from 1km of two gas plants near the Great Ocean Road
Here at Twelve Apostles: What a Gas we've had a phone call (via the Waubra Foundation) from a NSW shire councillor. The gas companies have their eyes on one of the small towns in his area. He wants to stop them coming into town, knows that if one gets in more will follow. But he wanted a first hand account of the gas driven calamities that have occurred in the Corangamite Shire, near the Great Ocean Road.

So we told him a few truths:

Be wary of the gas plant consultants/proponents who will try and make even coal-seam gas mines sound like days spas;

Once they're in, they're in: The original consultant employed by the first gas plant to be built near the Twelve Apostles assured the community that only one plant would ever be built - there are now four;

Ask about issues the proponents will never tell you about - like the numbers of trucks that will be shuttling along narrow country roads to and from the gas plant and the night-time lighting which will reconfigure the night-scape (the lights from the Twelve Apostles gas plants are so bright at night that they can be mistaken for a town);

Ask how is it possible that gas companies are permitted to self-regulate for noise: the Environmental Protection Authority are understaffed and under-funded. From our experience the EPA is almost powerless in country areas. The gas companies therefore take their own readings about the noise they emit. And if they do, on the off chance, take an excessive reading, the wind, birds, tractors and perhaps the untimely flatulence of one of the gas company employees taking the reading will be blamed;

The gas companies have a great escape clause in many of their operating licences. This refers to Unplanned Events. Not irregularly does the gas plant near to the home of Mr and Mrs Rogered 'blow up'. A great explosion of sound - like the sound of a fighter jet - shakes houses and results in a flare some 10metres or more high. This is an unplanned event and even if it happens twice a day it will not be regarded as excessive noise;

And about that flare: that 10metre flame is permissible even on days of Total Fire Ban. Hard to believe after the events of Black Saturday. But then, a lot about how gas companies really operate is hard to believe:

And finally, don't fall for the sucker-punch, the lure of the lucre. Gas companies will dole out sponsorship for community programs. At Port Campbell the life savers wear bathers with a gas company logo on them. In this way the companies get under a community's guard: don't let them in. Raise the money the old fashioned way - rally the organisation's troops and cart hay for a farmer or build a farm shed. Keep the integrity.

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