Coastal Sun December 20 2001 – What do you think?

What do you think

By Heather Tindale (Published in the Coastal Sun 20 December 2001)

Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Strategic Objectives stated in the Management Plan 2001-2006

Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC) interprets the community’s views and melds them with the Shire’s administration. To facilitate that, there is a Social Contract between council and the community.

“We want a shire where, in a balanced and sustainable way:
a. the views of the diverse community are sought and valued in developing plans and projects for the future.
b. The ecological health and natural beauty of the environment is protected.
c. The local economy, including tourism is characterized by steady, sustainable growth that builds on our strengths.”

Exerpts from The Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (DUAP) white paper – ‘Plan First’.

a. ‘Plan First’ is about ensuring that community involvement happens earlier in the process by notifying people of the intention to prepare a local plan, so that they can help set the agenda and not just comment when a draft local plan is on exhibition.
b. . Earlier engagement of the community to help develop concepts and ideas will make the plan more collaborative, give the community a greater sense of ownership and ensure support for and legitimacy of the plan and corresponding actions.

What do you think? Read the timeline and draw your own conclusions. Has Council upheld its objectives in the Management Plan? Has DUAP followed their own white paper?

The Charcoal Plant Timeline when Council was the consent authority.

April 30 2001: From Nick Cameron, State Forests to Chris Vardon, Mayor of ESC –
I refer to your meeting with State Forests and Portman Ltd. on Tuesday 24 April 2001 regarding the Lithgow Smelter. In relation to this meeting, please find attached, as requested, a copy of the debate on this project held in the Upper House of Parliament in September last year.

June 1 2001: Note to File, signed by J. Levy, General manager ESC
Craig Oliver, Australian Silicon representative, advised me on Friday, 1 June 2001 that the company had reached an agreement to buy the preferred site and were pursuing an option. These negotiations are confidential at this time.

June 19 2001 – Fax from Nick Cameron (SF) to Jim Levy (ESC)
Please note the following information is sensitive and should remain strictly confidential. As you are aware the preferred site for the charcoal plant on the NSW South Coast is located 12km north of Moruya is a site known as ‘Springwater”.
The NSW Director General has recently written to Australian Silicon to confirm that the NSW Government will do everything possible to ensure the project proceeds within NSW. In line with this directive and the wishes of AS, State Forests is facilitating a meeting of relevant government agencies to resolve outstanding issues associated with the proposed Moruya charcoal plant. Your Council is invited.

June 26 2001 – Briefing of whole council on June 26 2001 “confidential”
The General Manager briefed the committee of approaches made by an organization looking at sites within Victoria and NSW to set up an industry. The information is ‘commercial in confidence’.

June 28 2001 – June 28 2001 – Discovery of Issues Meeting at Batemans Bay.
Those present were Australian Silicon, State Forests, ESC, various government agencies and the owner of the site.
Points made by Peter Tegart ESC:
Consider: quarry rehabilitation, change in road usage by road type, particulary for log and charcoal trucks, bushfire controls in association with proposed native vegetation clearing, water supply preferred pipeline route along power easement, use of tertiary sewage effluent, how many direct jobs will be created, value adding to timber industry, forest management and outcome and keeping community engagement simple.

July 17 2001, 1:15pm – note signed by Jim Levy
“Paperwork now complete with Shepherds and hope to sign off next week. Like to brief Crs before application submitted for state significance to assure Crs that they are to be included in the process. Craig Oliver will ring me back tomorrow before noon.

July 23 2001 – extract from company media release
“The Australian Silicon is now moving swiftly towards a project development and receiving the attention of a specific focused group to take it forward.”

July 24 2001 – Ordinary Meeting of Council closed to public in case the information if disclosed would “prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied it.”
Peter Anderton (Portmans/AS) briefed council on a project of ‘state significance’.
Recommendation: Council:
1. Thanks you for the presentation
2. encourages the consortium to undertake an EIS, conduct public consultation as appropriate and keep council informed.
3. Notes that it will offer assistance to ensure points mentioned are expedited at no cost to council.
4. Understands and accepts that this matter is a development of ‘state significance’, as identified by the State Government.

July 27 2001: extract from fax to Bruce McGee (SF) and Peter Anderton (AS) from Judy Redman (ESC)
“The confidential resolution is for Councillors only and is not released to public. Minute #369 is the version of the minutes which are available to the public (see council’s recommendation).
Charcoal Plant timeline when the State Government became the consent authority.

August 13 2001: Declaration by Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, Andrew Refshauge that the project is of State and regional significance under the appropriate act and declares it to be a State Significant development .

August 28 2001: extract of fax from Jim Levy to all councilors – request for keeping site owner confidential.
I have assured the owner of the site that Council and staff would respect the confidentiality agreement made between the owner and the developer.

August 28 2001: extract from confidential minute from committee of whole ESC.
“They are planning to double the facility in five years time.”

September 11 2001: Works and Facilities Committee Meeting ESC
Chris Kowal and Mina Anderson addressed the Committee regarding their concerns for the proposed charcoal plant at Mogo.
When will Council hold a public meeting to put all facts on the table?
Mayor Vardon advised that Council will wait until it is in possession of all the facts, including submissions from interested parties.
In respect of calling public meetings; Council does not have the authority to call public meetings but has asked the proponents to do so.
September – the public was finally told the exact location of the site and the details of the project in a series of public meetings.

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