Bid to re­vive Table­land power plan

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JOHN AN­DER­SEN john. an­der­sen@ news. com. au

BE­HIND the con­crete bar­rier thatat cov­ers the open­ing, the tun­nel con- tin­ues into the moun­tains for 1.5km.

Had it been com­pleted the ‘ ex­per- imen­tal tun­nel’ would have con­tin­ued to the un­der­ground nerve cen­tre of the Tully- Mill­stream Hy­dro project.

It was from the lip of these moun- tains above the tun­nel that the wa­terr for the project from the Mill­stream and Blun­der creeks would have plum­meted 700m down from the south­ern Ather­ton Table­land to the tur­bines be­low. Had it gone ahead the hy­dro project would have gen­er­ated 600MW of power, enough to power more than 100,000 homes.

It never hap­pened. The 1988 World Her­itage list­ing of the rain­for­est and the con­ser­va­tion move­ment howled it down. In the mid1990s the project ground to halt de­spite it never be­ing of­fi­cially dumped by the Queens­land Par­lia­ment. Of­fi­cially, it is still ‘ live’.

This year the Cas­sowary Coast Re­gional Coun­cil moved to res­ur­rect and sup­port the Tully- Mill­stream Hy­dro Project. And to­day the coun­cil will ask North Queens­land Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment con­fer­ence del­e­gates in Ather­ton to sup­port the re­open­ing of a fea­si­bil­ity study.

C Cas­sowary Coast Re­gional Coun­cil deputy mayor Wayne Kim­ber­ley said his coun­cil de­cided to call for the reig­ni­tion of the plan in March af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull an­nounced a $ 2 bil­lion ex­pan­sion of the Snowy River hy­dro scheme.

“We thought the time was right,” Cr Kim­ber­ley said.

Hinch­in­brook MP An­drew Cripps has thrown in his sup­port.

“I be­lieve the time is now. An­other gen­er­a­tion of North Queens- lan­ders should not be de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to ben­e­fit from this ma­jor piece of eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture,” Mr Cripps told the Townsville Bul­letin this week.

Cr Kim­ber­ley said the project would ben­e­fit all of North Queens­land.

“The whole com­mu­nity here be­hind it,” he said.

Ron Hunt is a for­mer deputy mayor of the Card­well Shire Coun­cil ( now part of the Cas­sowary Coast Re­gional Coun­cil) and Tully Cham- is ber of Com­merce leader. He blames gree­nies, white wa­ter raft­ing com­pa­nies and weak politi­cians for the hy­dro project’s slow death in the 1990s.

“The gree­nies com­plained about los­ing rain­for­est, but the re­al­ity was that in the trade- off they would have ended up with 5 per cent more rain­for­est,” he said.

He said raft­ing com­pa­nies feared they would have to pay more for wa­ter dis­charges from the up­stream Koom­booloomba Dam when the Tully River rapids were low.

Joe Paronella is Mayor of the Ather­ton- based Table­lands Re­gional Coun­cil. He said the Tul­lyMill­stream was an ideal project for “the times”.

“The way the power in­dus­try is now, it makes a great deal of sense,” he said.

“I think hy­dro is the way to go. I’ll back any­thing to do with wa­ter re­ten­tion when it in­volves elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion and agri­cul­ture,” Cr Paronella said.

TUN­NEL VI­SION: For­mer shire coun­cil­lor Ron Hunt at the ce­mente­din adit of the ser­vice ac­cess to the aban­doned Tully- Mill­stream Hy­dro project. INSET: The Tully River at the Ka­reeya Hy­dro power sta­tion.

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