Wellington Council Agrees: Gas Fired Power Station No Closer Than 8km From Urban Area

 COUNCIL OF WELLINGTON
MAYORAL MINUTES/COUNCILLORS SUPPLEMENTARY REPORTS

PRESENTED TO THE ORDINARY MEETING OF COUNCIL
HELD ON WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE 2015 

“The Mayor and Councillors, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to report as follows .

ITEM 1 GAS FIRED POWER STATION – SUBMISSION 

Reason for Report

For Council to endorse the submission to the Department of Planning and Environment for the proposed Gas Fired Power Station.

Background

As a result of the Council and Community visit to the Oakey and Uranquinty gas fired power station sites, there was a genuine concern in relation to;

  1. Noise level predictions
  2. Terrain and prevailing weather conditions
  3. Proximity of the proposed plant to the Wellington township
  4. Economic impact

Accordingly a submission, copy attached, has been forwarded to the Department of Planning and Environment outlining the above concerns and stipulating that the proposed development not be built within 8km radius of urban area.

RECOMMENDATION: 

That Council endorse the action taken by the Mayor in forwarding a submission to Department of Planning and Environment requesting that the Gas Fired Power Station not be built within an 8km radius of an urban area. 

This is the final item in the Mayoral Minutes/Councillors Report

Rod Buhr
Mayor

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OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
Councillor Rod Buhr
10 June 2015

The Honourable Rob Stokes MP
NSW Minister for Planning
Parliament House
SYDNEY NSW 2000

Dear Minister Stokes

RE: APPROVED MA.JOR PROJECT APPROVAL. NUMBER MP06_0315
WELLINGTON GAS FIRED POWER STATION

 In response to increasing communrty concern. including a petition over ERM Power’s proposed gas fired power station for Wellington, Council resolved to conduct a fact finding tour of both the Uranquinty and Oaky power plants. A number of Councillors and community members have subsequently visited both sites. As a result Council, on behalf of the Wellington communiy, has felt it necessary to formulate a response which is contrary lo its previously stated position.

The following issues of concern have been identified:

  1. Noise level predictions
  2. Terrain and prevailing weather conditions
  3. Proximity of the proposed plant to the Wellington township
  4. Economic impact

Noise Level Predictions

Whilst it 1s understood that the Concowe method of calculating predicted noise levels is an internationally recognised standard and used by Parsons Brickenhoff to simulate predicted noise levels at Wellington, mistakes, errors or omissions can occur. This is evidenced by the outcome at Uranquinty where noise level outcomes were found to be substantially higher at a nominated receptor than those predicted. This resulted in the acquisition of this property along with a number of others by the proponent.

Terrain and Prevailing Weather Conditions

The two sites we visited have the respective plants situated on a broad level plan. Indeed the more recent plants of Braemar and Neerabup built by ERM have similar terrain characteristics. By ERM’s own admission they have not constructed a plant within terrain characteristics to those of the proposed Wellington site which is typically undulating to hilly. The effects or such terrain on noise levels is unclear and difficult to determine with any degree of accuracy.

Prevailing weather conditions are also a concern. Again, most of the plants with the excretion of Uranquinty are built in areas which would not normally expect extended periods of low level cloud cover or experience fogs. Typically these conditions are experienced in the Wellington valley particularly during the inter months. Evidence from Uranquinty is that cloud cover has a significant effect on noise levels to the extent that the plant is not used once a certain cloud level density is reached.

Proximity to Wellington Township

The proposed position of the Wellington plant is 1.9 kilometres from the north eastern edge of the township. This places it far closer to an urban area than either Uranquinty (3 kilometres) or Oaky (4.4 kilometres).

Economic Impact

Should a situation arise subsequent to the plants construction whereby noise levels exceed those predicted and this has a direct or perceived impact on the Wellington township a significant detrimental economic impact would be expected. Welhngton’s economy has suffered from regional and rural adjustment characterised in the Australian economy in the past 40 years. As a result we experience a declining population and a struggling retail sector.

An emerging strength for our local economy 1s to attract people who are being forced out of the increasingly expensive property markets of Dubbo, Mudgee and Orange and who are seeking a quiet country lifestyle within commuting distance to major regional centres. A power station on the edge of Wellington does not help to foster this opportunity.

In summary Council now deems the risks associated with this project in its current form outweigh any likely economic benefit to the community. Council is not opposed to the construction of this plant within the Local Government Area but would stipulate that it not be built within an 8 kilometre radius of an urbanised area.

Yours faithfully

Clr Rod Buhr
MAYOR

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See the Waubra Foundation presentation at a meeting of interested parties at Wellington