Dain­tree’s top wish? A state visit, please

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Ni­chols

MARK Bai­ley’s sus­pen­sion from state Cabi­net has been a blow to the Dain­tree Rain­for­est Power Com­mit­tee, which had elicited from the state min­is­ter a prom­ise to come up to Dain­tree to hear the plight of lo­cals over the power is­sue.

“We had been in touch with him a while ago and he gave us an un­der­tak­ing to come up here.

“I was go­ing to put him in touch with lo­cal busi­ness peo­ple so he could hear first hand the dif­fi­cul­ties of run­ning a busi­ness up here when you’re off the power grid,” said Dain­tree Rain­for­est Power Com­mit­tee chair­man Rus­sell O’Doherty.

Now, the com­mit­tee is chas­ing Trea­surer Cur­tis Pitt to make the jour­ney. It wouldn’t be be­fore time. “We haven’t had a state min­is­ter come up here for decades,” Mr O’Doherty told the

“You’d have to go back to the Goss govern­ment when he ex­cised us from the grid.”

Use­fully, the area did have a prom­i­nent vis­i­tor re­cently when fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment and En­ergy Min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg dropped in, along with fed­eral MP War­ren Entsch and various agency mem­bers.

“He agreed that the amount of diesel we burn each year – more than 3 mil­lion litres – was com­pletely un­ac­cept­able,” Mr O’Doherty said.

The com­mit­tee says all the main play­ers ex­cept the state govern­ment are lined up to sup­port an of­fer by the NIS En­ergy to bring elec­tric­ity gen- er­a­tion to the Dain­tree.

Mr O’Doherty said NIS En­ergy, which has the rights to the Jewel Box sys­tem, had put a full blown pro­posal to the com­mit­tee in which the com­pany would fund ei­ther a 3mW power plant, or three mi­cro-sys­tems – one each at For­est Creek, Cape Tribu­la­tion and Cow Bay – at no cost to the govern­ment.

They are locked in to sell the power to the com­mu­nity at 23 cents per kilo­watt for 20 years.

“It pro­duces no pol­lu­tion what­so­ever, it’s a piece of engi­neer­ing,” Mr O’Doherty said.

He said the govern­ment’s Arena body, which fo­cuses on re­new­able en­ergy, and oth­ers like the Wet Trop­ics Man­age­ment Author­ity were aligned with the pro­ject.

The com­mit­tee be­lieves the fed­eral sup­port un­der World Her­itage pro­vi­sions is for the un­der­ground ca­bling com­po­nent.

“The block­age is the state govern­ment. All we need is their ap­proval for this to pro­ceed.”

Fed­eral MP Josh Fry­den­berg, Rus­sell O'Doherty and War­ren Entsch MP at a re­cent meet­ing in the Dain­tree.

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