Published with permission
Let the People Decide!
A five hour ‘Extraordinary Meeting’ of Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC) was held on Tuesday to address requests from the community to help fund a legal appeal in the Land and Environment Court against Planning NSW decision to approve the charcoal plant in Mogo. ESC voted to place the decision to take action square in the laps of the community.
The people will decide if they want to commit funds for this purpose and the result will be made known on June 18. Fine details are yet to be worked, out but there will be extensive education period so that everyone is able to make an informed decision.
Ron Nye from the South Coast Regional Aboriginal Lands Council and Emmett O’Loughlin from the Charcoalition were present during the discussion.
Council retained Price Waterhouse Coopers – legal (PWC) to provide preliminary advice on the steps involved and the legal and specialist costs.
According to the Mayor, Peter Cairney, PWC believe that the charcoal plant is the most important environmental issue ever to come before the Land and Environment Court in Australia. They are confident that the community has a very good case on numerous points and have named an internationally renowned top barrister as their preferred choice. Mayor Cairney was quick to point out that PWC agreed good-humouredly that this case ‘would look good on their Curriculum Vitaes’.
PWC advised that multiple actions were preferable to a joint appeal but indicated that
coordination of all actions would produce the best outcome.
Other organizations will be approached to ascertain their views regarding possible action and joint funding including the NSW State Opposition, the NSW and South Coast Regional Aboriginal Lands Council, Cowra Shire Council, Boorawa Shire Council, Bathurst City Council, Lachlan Regional Transport Committee, The Wilderness Society, The Illawarra Regional Organization of Councils (IROC) and the NSW Greens.
Charcoalition has already decided to appeal and has indicated their willingness to cooperate with Council should the community decide to go to court.
Advice was also given as to the type of action to be lodged.
A class one ‘merit appeal is based mainly on environmental issues and usually incurs no court costs if the appeal is lost. It must be lodged within 28 days of the decision.
A class four judicial appeal is based mainly on judicial issues but costs could be incurred. It must be lodged within 90 days of the decision. The NSW government has the right to rule out this type of action under section 102 of the act.
Council decided to lodge a ‘merit appeal’. Price Waterhouse Coopers was instructed to do so immediately in case the community decides to allocate the funds. ESC can withdraw if necessary.
Charcoalition legal spokesperson, Emmett O’Loughlin was very pleased with Council’s decision and with PWC’s favourable opinion of the case. He said that there are several very good points to argue on both fronts. This group may decide to lodge both merit and judicial actions.
The Travelling Road Show
Charcoalition held the first one many information days, at Broulee last Sunday, regarding the Planning NSW decision to approve the charcoal plant in Mogo. Approximately 500 anxious people from Canberra, Moruya, the Bay and the immediate area crowded in to Broulee School Public Hall to hear several passionate speakers explain the facts of the Assessment and the consent approval.
What they heard renewed their hopes that the approval for the plant may be reversed.
Charcoalition believe there are many anomalies in the assessment report and that there are definitely good grounds for an appeal. This belief has been confirmed by legal opinion from environmental lawyers and subsequently by Council’s solicitors Price Waterhouse Coopers.
The information day swelled the coffers of the fighting fund. Several thousand dollars were deposited into the IMB Coastwatchers/Charcoalition bank account.
The ‘travelling road show’ was launched to inform the community of these facts and to act as a springboard to raise money for the fighting fund. Information days will be held in Batemans Bay, Narooma and Moruya over the next few weeks. Charcoalition also hopes to spread the word as far as Wollongong.
Many of the northern towns missed their chance to oppose the charcoal plant as Australian Silicon indicated it would use the Kings Highway to cart product and timber. During the assessment process by Planning NSW, the company changed its mind and will now use the Princes Highway, which puts small towns such as Berry right in the line of the truck traffic.
CEO Australian Silicon, Peter Anderton insists that only 5 trucks will pass through Shoalhaven City each day.
Charcoalition Roads and Traffic spokesperson, Nola Ford believes this to be untrue. “Mr Anderton has only counted the trucks carrying charcoal. He has forgotten that sawdust, sludge, fluxwood and carbon fine (charcoal grounds) must also go north from Mogo.
‘Using mathematical equations and the figures from the company, our experts have also calculated the amount of charcoal able to be loaded into a semi. Charcoal is bulky but light. A semi will only be able to carry 12 tonnes not the 24 tonnes indicated in the assessment report. More trucks will be used.”
She also pointed out that logging trucks have been left out of the equation altogether. “The timber trucks do not belong to the company, therefore they have not been counted.
“When logging occurs around in the Milton/Ulladulla area, 60 trucks per day will use the highway.”