Coastal Sun December 20th 2001 – Consultation Break Down

By Heather Tindale

Over 200 people attended a public meeting last Sunday [16 December 2001] hosted by Eurobodalla Shire Council to inform residents of their appraisal of the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the charcoal plant site. Also present were representatives from State Forests and Australian Silicon.

The meeting was held on a Sunday to accommodate holiday home owners, many of whom were from Canberra.
Peter Anderton from Australian Silicon presented an overview of the project followed by Council’s review of the EIS from Peter Tegart, Director of Planning.

The Mayor, Peter Cairney then invited comment from the audience. Many of the questions required answers from council and Australian Silicon. Council was very forthcoming however Mr. Anderton (AS) declined, despite being asked on three occasions, to take advantage of this public forum. He did however indicate that his company would be available on Monday, at the Batemans Bay Community Centre to address any concerns.

Craig Oliver also from Australian Silicon explained the company’s position. “We were only asked by council to present an overview. We were not asked in the invitation to participate in the discussion.”

On Monday, Mr. Anderton commented on the perceived irregularities in the EIS. “We used Environmental Protection Act standards as guidelines for the study. The findings of the EIS are well within these standards.”
He also indicated that ERM, the company who undertook the EIS, could easily refute council’s findings.
Mr. Anderton was hopeful of a favourable outcome for his company based on the fact that council’s recommendation not to support the charcoal factory was conditional on the deficient EIS. He alleged that if Australian Silicon could prove that ERM’s findings were in fact correct, then council should, under the terms of its own recommendation, withdraw its opposition to this project.

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