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News items from March and April 2009

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27 April 2009

ACTEW Pipeline project update

ACTEW's Water Security project has released an April 2009 Community Update. ACTEW will send Community Update to people on their notification list, or a copy is available from the link below. Some highlights of the update include:

Draft EIS progress

The MGT project was recently given approval by the ACT Government to proceed and ACTEW is now working to finalise the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. The Draft EIS will be placed on public display for 30 days which ACTEW anticipates will be from July 2009.

When the EIS goes on public exhibition, individuals and community groups will have the opportunity to make submissions on any aspect of the project for consideration by government decision makers. ACTEW have undertaken to advise the community of the exact dates of the public exhibition.

New community contact

Adina Cirson has been appointed as the Community Engagement and Stakeholder Management Leader for the project. Adina and other members of the Project team are available to make presentations or to discuss Project concerns with individuals or interested community groups. She can be contacted by phoning ACTEW's project Information Line on 6248 3563.

Weed mapping

ACTEW has engaged an independent agronomist in keeping with its commitment to rehabilitate land affected by surveys and later, construction. Houghton Agricultural Pty Ltd has carried out a review and has advised that following recent rains it is appropriate to seed and fertilise disturbed areas.

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26 April 2009

Steve Whan responds to gas-fired power station report

Monaro MP the Hon Steve Whan has responded to our report of a meeting he had with B.U.R.R.A. representatives to discuss a number of matters including the proposed 500 megawatt gas fired power station at Williamsdale:

I am disapointed to see the "interpretation" of a recent meeting held with BURRA representatives which discussed wind farms and a very early proposal for a gas fired power station by ACTEW and Williamsdale.

The version of that meeting reported does not reflect the actual conversation. It is true I did not just agree with everything the representatives put to me essentially asking me to give blanket opposition to any form of power generation anywhere near Burra. Australia does need to move away from coal fired power to cleaner forms of energy generation and if everyone takes the attitude that all new sites near them should be automatically ruled out then we are going to be spectacularly unsuccesful in combating climate change.

As I did with the proposal for the wind farm on the Molonglo Ridge I will consider any proposal on its merits and take into account the views put forward by all parties.

The grumpy and one sided version of a meeting in the news page really demonstrates to me an unwillingness to even consider alternative views, not a position I would have thought that reflects most Burra residents and certainly not most of the region's residents.

There are alternative views and I need to consider them all.

Steve Whan

B.U.R.R.A. says:

B.U.R.R.A.'s representatives at that meeting, Wendy Bell and Ros Bush, stand by their intepretation of the discussion. A number of matters were canvassed at that meeting including the boundary submission, aircraft noise, ACTEW's pipeline project, the proposed gas-fired power station and the NSW government's announcement of a "wind farm precinct". The purpose of the meeting was not to discuss or seek "blanket opposition to any form of power generation anywhere near Burra".

In reference to the gas-fired power station proposal, the only form of electricity generation that was discussed was gas-fired, specifically the Williamsdale proposal, although Mr Whan mentioned a 1 megawatt solar farm planned for Bega that he is actively supporting.

Our purpose in raising this issue with Mr Whan was to relay the community's disquiet over the Williamsdale 500 megawatt gas-fired power station proposal which was raised at a B.U.R.R.A.'s community meeting in November 2008 and with us by several individuals since. We sought Mr Whan's support for the community over this matter. It was not a general discussion on all forms of electricity generation. We had previously raised this matter in meetings with the NSW Minister for Water, the Hon Phillip Costa, and the NSW Planning Minister, the Hon Kristina Keneally.

Wind farm developments were discussed in a separate matter concerning the NSW government's declaration of our area a Wind Farm precinct without consulting the community first. We asked Mr Whan why the community discovered that the NSW government had effectively rezoned our area by reading a media release on the NSW Premier's website. Our primary concern was over the lack of consultation on the matter, something we have raised directly with the NSW Minister for Planning, Ms Keneally, and the new role envisaged for public servants from the NSW Planning Department.

B.U.R.R.A. will continue to provide a forum to ventilate community concerns over inappropriate development, including industrialisation of our neighbourhood. Our Association's aims are to provide input to policies and decisions at all levels of Government to try to ensure that:

  • The amenity of Burra, Urila and surrounds is preserved and enhanced.

  • Future development affecting Burra, Urila and surrounds is consistent with existing zonings, is compatible with surrounding properties, and recognises the need to protect the significant investment made by existing residents.

  • Services and infrastructure keep pace with the community’s needs and provide value for money.

We do not think that a 500 megawatt gas-fired power station in our midst is consistent with those aims. When our elected representative is dismissive of that view, not surprisingly, that makes us "grumpy".

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29 March 2009

ACT government gives the nod to ACTEW Pipeline

Route to go along the road reserve but fight not over for residents

The ACT government has given approval to ACTEW to proceed with the Murrumbidgee to Googong water pipeline project. The approval means ACTEW can continue the planning approvals process and construction.

The pipeline must meet Commonwealth, ACT and NSW environmental and development guidelines before construction can start. This process includes continued community consultation over an eighteen month period.

Pipeline route

Representatives of ACTEW met with the community at a public meeting in the Burra Hall on 10 March 2009. At the meeting, ACTEW unveiled their proposed route which, following pressure from the Burra Community and Palerang Councillors, now largely follows the route of the Williamsdale Road except for one large property at Williamsdale which is bisected by the pipeline.

ACTEW CEO, Mark Sullivan, told The Queanbeyan Age that the route would now go by the road, although about 20 properties would still be affected.

''It certainly has been different to a number of the options that we had considered. What came out of those earlier meetings was that if we can stick to the road we should stick to the road...While it encroaches on some properties, it is on the fenceline of the properties rather than across the property. It affects a number of properties, but in a lesser way,'' he said.

Several smaller properties in the McDiarmid Road area where the pipeline dog-legs away from the Williamsdale Road and in Lagoon Road close to Burra Park and the proposed outfall at the bridge over the Burra Creek on the Burra Road would also be severely impacted by this route.

Members of BURRA's Pipeline Working Group have resolved to support the residents of McDiarmid and Lagoon Roads who are fighting to have the pipeline outfall into the Burra Creek at Williamsdale Road thus avoiding their properties entirely. This would relieve the five propety owners concerned of the disruption, property devaluation, noise and emotional upheaval for .  

The working group also considered that there could be substantial benefits for the Burra Creek if the outfall was near the end of Williamsdale Road.  This option would allow mitigation for some of the turbidity and greater opportunity for oxygenation of the water before it enters the reserve area, an opportunity to replant the creek banks with native species, and an increased water flow could result in the return of platypus along that section of the creek.  

ACTEW have indicated that they would consider the outfall at the end of Williamsdale Road if environmental assessments supported this option. An outfall at the end of Williamsdale Road would save approximately 1.5 km of underground pipeline plus compensation for the affected landholders.

ACTEW will now move to a formal process, which involves lodging their EIS with the consent authorities of the ACT, NSW and Commonwealth Governments. Public exhibition of the environmental assessments is expected to commence in mid 2009. This will present a formal opportunity for community members to input ideas, raise issues and provide feedback directly to government decision makers.

Related links:

More information about the pipeline project will be posted on this website as it becomes available, or contact the ACTEW Water Security Project on 6248 3563 or by email to

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29 March 2009

Industrialisation: Coming to a quiet, rural neighbourhood near you

NSW Government Declares ACT/NSW Border Region a Wind-Farm Precinct.

Did you know you lived in a wind-farm precinct?

According to a media release issued by NSW Premier Nathan Rees on 27 February 2009, the whole of the ACT/NSW Cross Border Region is now zoned as a 'wind-farm' precinct suitable for the erection of industrial wind-turbines. Development applications for wind-power generation in the wind-farm precinct will also be fast tracked through the State planning approval process.

That's right – your neighbourhood has been effectively re-zoned for industrial power generation. If, like us, you can't remember being consulted about this, it's because the State Government didn't think it necessary to talk the communities within the re-zoned areas before making the announcement. Ironically, this announcement came just a couple of weeks after the NSW Cabinet held community meetings in Queanbeyan, supposedly to consult with the community about priorities for our area.

Not content with selling-out our community out to the industrial wind-industry, the State Government will be sending the Department of Planning officials from Sydney to 'convince' you to feel good about having your rural amenity shattered, your peace and quiet wrecked, and your property value demolished by an industrial wind-plant. Mr Rees said:

"Planning Department project managers will co-ordinate agencies to work and consult with local communities to gain support for investments in the development and operation of wind energy projects."

Do we really pay NSW Public Servants to act as sales representatives for the wind-industry? Aren't the bureaucrats in the Department of Planning - of all places - supposed to be impartial when it comes to considering the pros and cons of development applications?

According to Mr Rees , getting the wind-farms up and running is all about "local buy-in and ownership"

Oh, we need to worry then! If Mr Rees is correct the developers will probably offer to pay for a new fire truck or a few kilometers of sealed roads and everyone will be ecstatic about having their rural neighbourhood turned into an industrial site.

At a meeting with BURRA representatives last week, Steve Whan said he still held the view that the Molonglo Ridge was an inappropriate location for a wind-farm. Trouble is, we aren't just talking about the Molonglo Ridge any more - ALL the hills around our valley, and indeed the whole region, are now up for grabs by industrial wind-farm speculators.

Not happy? Write to your local member, the Hon. Steve Whan, and tell him what you think about your peaceful rural residential neighbourhood being touted by the State Government as the perfect location for industrial wind-turbines.

Hon Steve Whan,
Member for Monaro
110-112 Monaro Street ,

Phone (02) 6299 4899
Fax (02) 6297 9998

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29 March 2009

Williamsdale Gas-fired Power Station

Whan stands up for Canberra residents' amenity - at our expense

Did you know that if you buy into a rural residential area near Canberra you run the risk of having a gas-fired power station dumped in your neighbourhood with the blessing of the our representative in the NSW State Government?

Perhaps, like us, you are beginning to see a trend emerging. Not content with declaring the whole area a 'wind-farm precinct' the NSW State Government appears to be thrilled about the prospect of the ACT commissioning a 500 megawatt gas-fired power station just over the border at Williamsdale.

Representatives of BURRA met with Steve Whan (NSW Member for Monaro) last week. Despite the ACT Government's back-down on their own plan to build the power station close to Canberra suburbs, Mr Whan seemed less than sympathetic to the proposition that an industrial power station is an inappropriate development for rural residential areas in his own electorate of Monaro.

The gist of Mr Whan 's response was that additional gas-fired power generation was essential and that these generating plants had to go "somewhere". He was emphatic that because residents in our area consume electricity, and because gas-fired power generation is cleaner than coal-fired power generation, we have no right to object to or even question the ACT's proposal to dump its unwanted power station on our doorstep. Forgive us for thinking that NSW already does its bit for our region's and the ACT's clean electricity supply in the form of the Snowy Hydro Scheme! And while we are begging forgiveness, forgive us for expecting our own local member to stand up for his own constituents.

Steve Whan also says he would like to see local-scale gas-fired power generators installed in the suburbs. In that case, we suggest that the established, appropriately zoned, industrial areas of Hume, Fyshwick, or Mitchell would be more appropriate locations for the ACT government to build their power station rather than a green-field site in a rural and rural residential area like Williamsdale where the residents rely on tank water, value the peace and quiet and do not have the built infrastructure to support an industrial complex.

What good fortune for the sensitive folk of Canberra . Their own elected representatives, the ACT Government, heeded their concerns and dumped the unwanted power station far away from their homes, on the ACT border where only NSW voters will have their lives disrupted and their local environment polluted. Better still, they have managed to do it with the apparent blessing of the NSW Government and not even a whimper from the local member for Monaro.

Steve Whan says that nobody has raised this issue with him (except ACTEW, of course). If you agree with Steve Whan that a 500 megawatt gas-fired power station at Williamsdale is a terrific idea, drop him a line. If you think the opposite - that the decision has come about through political expedience and that Whan has misjudged his own constituents' opposition to this project, then most definitely write to him at:

Hon Steve Whan,
Member for Monaro
110-112 Monaro Street ,

Phone (02) 6299 4899
Fax (02) 6297 9998

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29 March 2009

Canberra Airport Expansion – 24 Hour Freight Hub on the cards

Member for Monaro, Steve Whan, has encouraged BURRA to oppose Canberra Airport 's plans to expand the airport and operations to facilitate the development of a 24 hour freight hub. The airport expansion could eventually see the number of flights using Canberra Airport increasing to as often as one every two minutes on a 24 hour basis, with a commensurate increase in aircraft noise over our area and heavy vehicle congestion on local roads.

BURRA has pledged to support the aims of Curfew 4 Canberra and will also be lodging a submission on the Airport's Draft Master Plan. Individuals can also lodge submissions which close on 8 May 2009.

The Draft Master Plan and details about lodging a submission are available from the Canberra Airport website.

We are grateful for Steve Whan 's support on this issue although we are left to wonder what, in essence, is the difference between freight consumers objecting to a 24 hour freight hub in their neighbourhood (at an existing airport) and electricity consumers objecting to a gas-fired power station on a greenfields site in their neighbourhood. Why do residents objecting to the former deserve the full and energetic support of their local member while residents who object to the latter do not? Is it, as Mr Whan indicated to BURRA, a matter of numbers?

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17 March 2009

Anne Goonan elected to Palerang Council

With a margin of 143 votes, Anne Goonan has been elected to fill the vacant spot on Palerang Council.

Goonan was 152 votes ahead of Richard Holding when first preferences were counted, but the distribution of Mark Horan's preferences slightly favoured Holding and reduced her margin by 9 votes.

Of the 2276 ballots cast for Horan, only 931 indicated a second preference. Of these, Holding gained 475 and Goonan gained 456.

Goonan was the last eliminated candidate in the Local Government elections held in September 2008, missing out on that occasion by approximately 100 votes.

Barring a request for a recount from another candidate, the result will be declared on Wednesday, 18 March with Goonan being sworn in as a councillor at the next Council meeting on 2 April in Bungendore.

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10 March 2009

Williamsdale: it's a gas, gas, gas...or maybe not

The on-again/off-again Williamsdale gas fired power station is off again (we think)

At a meeting held by ACTEW in Burra this evening, CEO Mark Sullivan said that had ACTEW no plans to build a gas-fired power station at Williamsdale.

The assurance from Mr Sullivan came after a question from the audience relating to ACTEW's Murrumbidgee to Googong pipleine and is contrary to statements made in late January when Mr Sullivan was quoted as saying that ActewAGL were looking at the feasibility of a gas-fired power plant for the Williamsdale site.

The property in question – Block 1653, District of Tuggeranong– abuts the Monaro Highway and the southern border of the ACT. It has been purchased by ActewAGL's parent company, ACTEW.

According to the ABC website, in January Mr Sullivan said that "The motivation in buying the land was to ensure that nothing got in the way of the second point of electricity connection, which is extremely important for the ACT".

"We're looking at a whole range of possible commercial options for the land, things like power stations and solar farms," he said.

A report in The Canberra Times from late January stated that ACTEW's subsidiary, ActewAGL, had plans to build a 500-megawatt gas-fired power plant on the site and was still preparing a business case for the $650 million plant.

Plans for a 500MW gas-fired peaking plant were first announced on 25 June 2008 by outgoing ActewAGL CEO John Mackay who said he was confident that the business case would stack up. In a subsequent statement from ActewAGL, the company said that the project was in a "pre-feasibility study phase". In December 2006, Mr Sullivan told representatives of BURRA that no power station was planned.

The proposition of a power station in the midst of rural residential and rural development is opposed by residents of Williamsdale, Burra and nearby Royalla.

In light of the conflicting stories about the Williamsdale proposal, BURRA will seek another set of clarifying statements from ACTEW and ActewAGL, which will hopefully be more informative than the last statement.

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Last updated: 14 March, 2010

© 2007 Burra Urila Residents and Ratepayers Association Inc