Coastal Sun January 24th 2002 – Editorial / Tie a Yellow Ribbon / Letters to the Editor

Coastal Sun – 24 January 2002
Articles associated with the Charcoal plant issue
Published with permission


Does the Eurobodalla Shire want a charcoal plant?

NO is the resounding answer.

Seventy-nine percent of the people who responded to the Sun phone poll said NO. (we discounted all votes, either yea or nay, if the voices were identical).

It is difficult to find a case for having the plant.

Anyone who is willing to stand up and be counted – for the plant – has only 1 argument. “It will generate jobs for the shire.”

Yes, it will. Ten jobs – not 100, not 55 but 10.

The Eurobodalla Shire Council says that the EIS is incorrect with its job statistics. They claim they did not give job projections to Australian Silicon.

Furthermore the Minister for Planning, Dr. Refshauge was advised by his staff that the plant will generate 10 jobs in this region. (Supported by a ministerial brief, written to inform Dr. Refshauge of the facts before he declared the plant ‘state significant’).

Ten jobs – a drop in the ocean!

How many businesses will be affected by the presence of the plant?

How long is a piece of string?

How many jobs will be lost because of the plant?

Again, how long is a piece of string?


According to State Forests, wood will only come from standing trees. Nick Cameron (SF) went to great lengths to explain to me that wood lying on the forest floor will not be harvested.

But how long will it take before State Forests can mount an argument to sell the whole tree to Australian Silicon, not just the wasted bits?

This wood processing facility will gobble up fuel, especially if it doubles in size in 5 years time (a statement recorded in council minutes).

What will happen to the saw-mills then?


NRMA (2001) -“any additional truck movements on the Princes Highway will cause havoc.”

One semi does the same amount of damage to our roads as 10,000 cars.

One B-double does the same amount of damage to our roads as 20,000 cars. (statistics from the Australian Motoring Association).

One semi or B-double will enter or leave the plant every 6 to 8 minutes.

Who will pay for the damage inflicted on our highways? We will!

Who will pay for necessary highway upgrades to accommodate the trucks? We will!

Who will pay for the Batemans Bay and Nelligen bridges to be strengthened (RTA proposal), to accommodate the truck traffic? We will!

Who will pay Australian Silicon a NSW grant of $3 million dollars for the privilege of having the plant? We will!

This shire will pay dearly – job loss, noise pollution, water pollution, air pollution, the drain on our water supply, use of our taxes – the list is endless.

Who will gain?

Initially, perhaps a few local building material companies, a few local builders and 10 people.

Long-term loss for many or short-term gain for a few – is it worth it? It is time to stand up and be counted. The staff at the Eurobodalla Sun votes NO.
Carr government contradicts
promotion Of Nature Coast
The Conservation Council, South East Region and Canberra has joined the growing number of organizations to say NO to a charcoal plant. “The proposed charcoal plant will have negative environmental, social and economic impacts on the local South Coast as well as the broader region, including the ACT,” said Nicola Davies, Conversation Council Director. “The NSW decision making process will be hindered by an inadequate Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

“The EIS fails to adequately address forest management principles. Even more alarming, it makes an unjustified assumption that the proposed plant will not emit the toxic compound dioxin.

“It would be contradictory for the NSW Government to approve this development as it is totally incompatible with the Nature Coast image that Bob Carr and the Eurobodalla Shire Council are themselves promoting,” finished the Director.

Tie a yellow ribbon

Tie a yellow ribbon round the old gum tree on February 2.

The Charcoalition Committee are both relieved and worried.

Relieved because submissions are in and worried that the State Government may rubber stamp the charcoal factory, despite the committee’s best efforts and the efforts of the 1500 plus people who sent in their objections to the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning.

“We must show the Carr government that the fight is not over. Close to 80 percent of the community do not want this plant,” said Col Brown.

February 2 is ‘Yellow Ribbon Day’.

Everyone is asked to wear yellow and to tie yellow ribbons round your cars, trees, houses and boats.

The charcoalition will hold a community picnic day in the park at Mogo. Yellow is the order of the day.

Nola Ford, a committed charcoalition member was emphatic, “The ‘Walk across the Bridge’ was a fantastic turn-out with 2500 people. Let’s make this one bigger and better. Let’s show them we mean business.”

Letters to the Editor

Question Time

I have questions to ask.

Have all our councillors been acting on the behalf of the general community in Eurobodalla?

Why did only a small circle of select councilors know of the proposal in early 2001? Some of the councillors were not told about the project in its initial stages. Why?

It couldn’t have been a ‘commercially in confidence’ project because there were no other companies tendering. The only thing that may have threatened the existence of the project was people’s opinion.

Our elected representatives have a duty to disclose any major project that may impact on the community be contentious – they work for us – we pay them. Did the Council’s Business Development Board support the development under the chair of Councillor Laugher?

Australian Silicon’s Managing Director, Peter Anderton stated publically that the company was led to believe that the community would welcome it. Who told him that and why?

Finally, How much time and taxpayer’s money has already been spent on trying to have this project sited in our shire by council?

Thanks to the courageous stand by Mayor Peter Cairney, supported by councillors Allan Brown and John Smellin, for bringing to light the facts and for taking a stand against the State Government on this issue. At the next Council election, I for one will certainly be remembering who supported the community, and who didn’t.

Margaret Meakin, Malua Bay

See, Hear, Smell

Mr. Peter Anderton, Managing Director of Australian Silicon, was asked on the Today TV Show Thursday 17 January 2002 “How many people will the charcoal factory employ on a permanent basis?” Mr. Anderton replied “Directly, about between 50 and 60 people, and on the Eurobodalla Council’s own figures, about 120 people on an indirect basis.”

But Mr. Anderton’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Charcoal plant stated that the plant would generate only 25 permanent jobs directly, and a further 28 jobs in the forest industry.

To further confuse us, as Mayor Peter Cairney stated in his last Mayoral Report – a Brief describing the factory, signed off by the Minister for Planning Dr. Refshauge, states that only 10 jobs will be generated locally.

Mr Anderton also said of the charcoal plant, on the same TV show, also on ABS Stateline 7 December 2001, “you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, you can’t hear it”.

But Mr. Anderton’s EIS reveals that:

You CAN see it –
The EIS states “The upper extent of the retorts WILL BE VISIBLE at specific locations depending on the angle of view and the glow from site lighting and emergency gas flaring operations MAY BE VISIBLE at night.”

You CAN smell it –
The EIS states about odour, “It is unlikely that there will be any SUBSTANTIAL off-site impacts due to this source.”

You CAN hear it –
The EIS states (a) “The daytime operational noise levels MEET THE PROJECT SPECIFIC CRITERIA AT ALL BUT ONE RECEIVER. Night time exceedances over the intrusiveness criteria ARE PREDICTED under adverse weather conditions.” and (b) No construction or operational road traffic noise impacts BEYOND ACCEPTABLE LEVELS are expected.

John Allen,  Malua Bay

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