Bid to revive Tableland power plan
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.