Westlink de­ci­sion is com­mon sense

Gatton Star - - Opinion -

FI­NALLY a de­ci­sion by the Plan­ning and En­vi­ron­ment Court has vin­di­cated the pro­posed Westlink Power sta­tion. The de­ci­sion demon­strates Lock­yer Val­ley Re­gional Coun­cil­lors had no real ba­sis to con­tin­u­ally deny con­di­tional ap­proval to the pro­posal, ex­cept, it seems, to pla­cate a small spe­cial in­ter­est group. Un­der our cur­rent lo­cal gov­ern­ment sys­tem in the LVRC of non-divi­sional rep­re­sen­ta­tion, it seems no coun­cil­lors will vote for any project that may lose them a cou­ple of hun­dred votes, which on the last lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tion fig­ures may well have meant the dif­fer­ence be­tween win­ning and los­ing a seat on coun­cil. Un­der divi­sional rep­re­sen­ta­tion, I be­lieve most coun­cil­lors would have voted on the project based on the pro­pos­als own mer­its, as coun­cil­lors who did not rep­re­sent the divi­son that would in­clude Adare would not nec­es­sar­ily have lost votes be­cause of it. Most ap­palling is the huge amount of ratepay­ers’ funds this coun­cil has used in le­gal costs, con­duct­ing a cam­paign on be­half of a spe­cial in­ter­est group. I ap­plaud whole­heart­edly the de­ci­sion to grant con­di­tional ap­proval to this de­vel­op­ment. The Lock­yer Val­ley needs sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment if it is to at­tract and re­tain the type of highly skilled work­ers that this project will em­ploy. Fur­ther, young res­i­dents can be en­cour­aged to pur­sue high-skilled jobs in the lo­cal area rather than to have to look else­where, as this low-emis­sion peak sta­tion will utilise a highly-skilled, ed­u­cated work­force. The nat­u­ral gas fired low-emis­sion peak sta­tion pro­posed by Westlink would im­prove en­ergy sup­ply and se­cu­rity at times of peak us­age across the South East. Ac­cord­ing to Westlink, the plant would “have a Green­house Gas in­ten­sity 20-30% lower than a coal-fired plant”, while work­ing to in­crease sup­ply through peak us­age times, in­vest­ing $150 mil­lion in the first stage and cre­at­ing 200 jobs. On cur­rent con­sump­tion trends, the plant may only run 20% of the time to meet peak de­mand. The court’s de­ci­sion ac­knowl­edges the ben­e­fits to “closed for busi­ness” to or­gan­i­sa­tions look­ing to in­vest cap­i­tal and em­ploy lo­cal res­i­dents in ex­cit­ing and sus­tain­able projects like this and oth­ers that have been de­nied by the coun­cil. Coun­cil­lors should think more about the fu­ture of the re­gion and less about their

I ap­plaud whole­heart­edly the de­ci­sion to grant con­di­tional ap­proval to this de­vel­op­ment (Westlink)

the lo­cal com­mu­nity. How can a coun­cil elected to rep­re­sent the best in­ter­ests of the com­mu­nity, have con­tin­u­ally fought against such a project? While I ac­knowl­edge that pri­mary in­dus­try is still, and will re­main, the re­gion’s most im­por­tant in­dus­try, we must look to di­ver­sify our lo­cal econ­omy by sup­port­ing sus­tain­able in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ments. There is no rea­son the agri­cul­ture and en­ergy sec­tors can­not co-ex­ist, if the coun­cil shows sup­port for the project and as­sists in its de­vel­op­ment, rather than act­ing as a road-block for growth. The Lock­yer Val­ley Re­gional Coun­cil looks very much to be im­me­di­ate re-elec­tion if we are, as a re­gion, to grow go­ing for­ward.

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