Despite overwhelming public opposition, in 2012 AGL received conditional approval to build the largest gas-fired power station in Australia: just 3 km north of Dalton and 9 km north-west of Gunning. The proposed AGL Dalton Power Project is being presented as part of a solution within the current debate over Australia’s energy security.
On 15 March 2017, just weeks from the approval period expiring, AGL has applied to the NSW Planning Department to extend their approval for two years. AGL stated that the intention of this application is to allow them the opportunity to lodge a “more substantive modification” within that period.
A gas-fired power station such as this should not be seen in isolation as such a solution, without considering the impacts on the communities that will be subjected to it. An open-cycle gas power station like the one proposed for Dalton produces 85% of the emissions of a black-coal-fired power station.
The cumulative impact of highly persistent pollutants in harvested rainwater used locally for domestic drinking water are of critical concern to the community.
Those that choose not to subject themselves and their children to industrial noise and chemical exposure by relocating will not be compensated. Yet, AGL will generate profits for their shareholders out of the hardship and health risks they impose on the residents and tourism industry of the area. If people are forced to sell their homes and properties to AGL, we will lose the volume of population necessary to continue our businesses, schools, trade and tourism in the district. The socioeconomic fabric of our towns will be irreparably damaged. The possible construction of the power station poses a significant threat to the value of properties and business in the region. Any actual construction will be devastating.
AGL received their original approval under highly questionable legislation that was repealed in 2011 after a corruption scandal that brought down the then NSW government. This loophole legislation affords our communities little say in how our towns and lives will be affected.
By repealing it, the NSW Government has acknowledged the corrupt and unfair practices that had resulted from Part 3A: practices such as AGL’s undisclosed political donations during the assessment of the Dalton Power Project. The “transitional” provisions are also soon to be repealed. We need our elected representatives to not simply allow AGL to avail themselves of the processes under Part 3A, purely in order to be seen as ‘doing something’ about energy security.
The impacts on our communities are not acceptable collateral damage in the larger debate. We urge our politicians to acknowledge the severity of the impact that this proposal has already had on the communities of Dalton and Gunning, and the devastating consequences for us if it ever proceeds. We do not believe the contribution to energy market security that such a peaking facility would make justifies the harm that would be inflicted upon us.