Discussions held on Goulburn to Crookwell Rail Trail project | Goulburn Post



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Goulburn to Crookwell Rail Trail Inc held discussions on the project with several government departments this week. “The officials were here to familiarise themselves with our project. Discussions on the proposal were held with them and we are expecting a feedback soon,” mayor and Goulburn to Crookwell Rail Trail Inc chairman Bob Kirk said. Officials from the Department of Regional NSW, Public Works, and Transport for NSW were part of the meeting on July 14. READ MORE: Goulburn-Crookwell rail trail back on track “They are engaged in the current pilot project for the rail trail that was recently completed at Tumbarumba and are familiar with the issues and concepts of rail trails,” Cr Kirk said. “In my view, they were well-informed and encouraging.” The group and the government officials took a tour of the section of railways within the corridor in Goulburn during their visit on Tuesday. READ ALSO: These COVID-19 testing sites do not require scheduled appointments During the meeting, the officials were apprised with the findings of a recent review of the proposal undertaken in June by a Wollongong based company. The company that reviewed the proposal has worked as a consultant for the 21km Rosewood to Tumbarumba rail trail pilot project. “We discussed the positive impact on the decision -making factors of the latest review. We talked about the possibilities of delivering the program as a whole and in stages. However, it is just a discussion at this point,” he added. READ ALSO: Pub couple slams slow-motion contact tracing The latest review by the Wollongong based company in June has estimated the total cost of the project to be $14.16m. The Goulburn to Crookwell project has been under consideration since 2015. The 56km proposal would see the former Goulburn to Crookwell railway line converted into a rail trail for cyclists and walkers. You can give your feedback on the proposal or share your views with the local group via email secretary@gcrt.org.au. Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.

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Casino school’s new $8m building project


THE Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP) will meet later this month to discuss a plan to demolish school rooms and canteen to build a brand new STEM building for St Mary’s Catholic College at Casino.

The development application would mean the demolition of existing school buildings and the construction of a two-storey building for general learning areas, common learning space, labs, amenities and canteen.

The proposal does not alter the student capacity of the school, but it seeks a variation to the 8.5m height of buildings development standard to 10m.

The project is estimated to cost $8,394,000.

According to document submitted to Richmond Valley Council and the NRPP, the project “seeks to provide learning facilities with the necessary flexibility to deliver a contemporary multi disciplinary school curriculum, providing state of the art STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) facilities intended to remain functional for at least the next 20 years.”

The areas to be demolished will be three two-storey buildings, a single storey toilet and classroom, a canteen building and associated covered walkways, landscaped and paved areas.

A new two-storey building will then be built in the same location, but “with a more compact footprint,” according to the application documents.

“The new building will contain general learning areas, common learning space, labs, amenities and canteen.”

 

Artist’s impression of the proposed $8 million STEM facility at St Mary’s Catholic College in Casino. Photo: Newton Denny Chapelle

 

The heritage listed St Mary’s Catholic Church and St Mary’s Catholic Presbytery adjoin the development site on the corner of Centre Street and Canterbury Street.

The NRPP will offer an online public meeting on Wednesday, July 22, from 2.30pm.

Chaired by Paul Mitchell, the meeting will be held via teleconference. Instructions on joining the virtual meeting will be given to those who register to speak or listen.

Those who may want to address the panel or listen to a panel meeting, must register by contacting the Planning Panels Secretariat for instructions to join the meeting by calling 02 8217 2060 or by emailing enquiry@planningpanels.nsw.gov.au.

 

Read more:

School’s grand plan for $8m upgrade





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‘Major Project’ is ready to go – except for the money – Alice Springs News


By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has conferred Major Project Status on a mining venture that has as yet no assured source of development capital.

 

Executive Chairman Mick Billing, of the Adelaide based Thor Mining PLC, says the tungsten mine, which goes back to mining and trucking pioneer Kurt Johannsen in the 1970s, will require $43m and as yet no funds are locked in.

 

But Mr Gunner says: “In another sign of private investor confidence in the Northern Territory’s economic recovery, global mining company Thor Mining will establish an open pit mine near Alice Springs.”

 

In fact the proposed mine at Molihil near Jervois, is 220 kms north-east of the town.

 

“This project is a jobs jackpot for Central Australia,” says Mr Gunner, “expected to create nearly 100 local jobs – 59 ongoing local jobs in Alice Springs over the seven year projected mine life, and a further 40 jobs during construction.”

 

He puts the “estimated capital expenditure” at $69.3m which is $27m above the figure quoted by Mr Billing.

 

Mr Billing says he is pleased about the Major Project Status for the project, which he expects will “facilitate a whole bunch of government approvals under one banner, as a one-stop shop.

 

“In our case we have most of these approvals, so that’s not a particular issue for us, but as you go through the construction development process there will  be some approvals required, and this will help that.”

 

He expects it will also assist the project to obtain investment and/or interest in a joint venture.

 

“It will be helpful to have that status for that purpose,” says Mr Billing.

 

“Having a statement from the NT Chief Minister that this project is considered important by the NT Government is very positive.”

 

Mr Billing says he is in the process of raising finance, creating joint venture arrangements and/or obtaining loan finance from banks.

 

He says none of the the project is locked in yet: “We’ve had offers from several parties for amounts that would contribute.

 

“But if you lock those in you make yourself ineligible for larger portions of funding from people who are prepared to do the lump.

 

“It’s not a matter of saying, well, this month we’ll try and get a couple of million and in the next quarter we’ll get another four or five million.

 

“You try and do it in one big package. We have a number of sources we are working with. If someone comes in on a joint venture he would do the lion’s share of the funding, if not all of it.

 

“It’s a big balancing act. I will if he will. But if he doesn’t I’m not.”

 

What point along the fund-raising way has the company reached?

 

“I’m not prepared to say that. That’s commercially sensitive.”

 

Local front bencher Dale Wakefield commented in a media release: “We are on a jobs led recovery, not a cuts led recovery.”

 

And Mr Gunner says: “The Territory Labor Government will always put jobs ahead of cuts,” a sure sign that a new spin is under way.

 

 

UPDATE July 11, 6am

 

Central Australian frontbencher Dale Wakefield, when asked by the Alice Springs News, said the Major Project Status was conferred because of the development work on the mine for several years and extensive exploration.

 

“They have shown an important resource is there that is in demand around the world.

 

“It’s important for governments to back private businesses [making sure we] work as effectively to get the outcomes for Territorians which is jobs.”

 

NEWS: Are they getting any special treatment?

 

WAKEFIELD: No, there is no special treatment, it’s about us working with companies with a project that has been developed to a certain level.

 

NEWS: The bureaucracy will not treat them differently to anyone else? They are not getting shortcuts?

 

WAKEFIELD: There are not shortcuts through our processes.

 

She said capital raising is clearly an issue. International capital markets highly volatile due to COVIT-19.

 

The government is “providing support for them and backing in those capital markets by providing the Major Projects Status”.

 

NEWS: Is the government putting any money into that project?

 

WAKEFIELD: Not that I am aware of.

 

 

 

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New environment controls designed to speed up project


A soil processing site must be 200 metres away from schools, homes and health services – closer than the 500-metre buffer currently in place for landfills.

The government will also give up an estimated $200 million by allowing the project’s waste to be dumped in a separate “containment system”, which is identical to a landfill cell but does not attract the $66-a-tonne levy.

This will solve the concerns of builders CPB Contractors and John Holland that up to 3 million tonnes of PFAS tunnelling soil would have to be dumped into landfill instead of being reused because of the Environment Protection Authority’s beefed up rules on PFAS.

However, the 700,000 tonnes of soil already dug up on the project must be sent to landfill, triggering the levy.

Environmental Justice Australia’s senior lawyer, Bruce Lindsay, said the regulations appear to have been designed to allow proposals put forward by landfill operators to dump the project’s soil.

Operators Maddingley Brown Coal in Bacchus Marsh and Hi-Quality in Bulla submitted their tenders earlier this year to take soil from the project. Cleanaway in Ravenhall is also poised to submit its tender.

“The exercise appears intended, once again, to facilitate or fast-track commercial outcomes and use the state to solve a commercial headache at the expense of displacing the problem onto communities,” Mr Lindsay said. “The nature of the regulations themselves suggest lesser and unacceptable standards will be implemented.”

In a letter to the EPA about the regulations, Moorabool Shire Council chief executive Derek Madden said operators were simply required to submit an environmental management plan, which didn’t have to meet any “empirical standards”.

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The regulations were an “enabler that will allow MBC [Maddingley Brown Coal] to take spoil from the West Gate Tunnel”, he wrote. “It throws into serious question the balance of the regulatory regime in relation to that spoil.”

Australian Landfill Owners Association chief executive Colin Sweet warned the new regulations would “prevent third-party appeal rights”, meaning a local council or residents could not take their concerns to VCAT.

Mr Sweet said it could also create the unintended consequence of landfill sites storing the Metro Tunnel soil being in breach of the regulations if they do not have the newly prescribed environmental management plan.

Peter Anderson, chief executive of the Victorian Waste Management Association, said it was unfair the West Gate Tunnel’s builders would not have to pay the landfill levy when other businesses still had to.

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But the Victorian head of national employer association Ai Group, Tim Piper, said it made sense for the government to waive the landfill levy as this would have blown out the project’s costs considerably, which would have been passed on to taxpayers.

The state government said the rules would ensure that low-risk soil from tunnel-boring machines can be managed and disposed of in a safe way. Transurban played no rule in developing the regulations, a spokeswoman said.

“These regulations have been brought in specifically to safely manage low-risk tunnel spoil – the low contamination level means it’s unnecessary to send the spoil to landfill,” the spokeswoman said.

A DELWP spokesman said the EPA was confident that the levels of PFAS in tunnel spoil, with appropriate controls, “would not impact the community or environment”.

The rules would have been covered off in the new Environment Protection Act that was delayed a year due to COVID-19.

Opposition transport infrastructure spokesman David Davis said the regulations would render landfills taking tunnel-boring soil exempt from controls built into the Environment Protection Act.

The regulations were published as the state government, Transurban and the joint building venture face off in the Supreme Court over costs and delays relating to the disposal of the project’s PFAS contaminated soil.

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U.S. approves Pembina’s LNG project, but analysts warn ‘nothing is ever a sure thing now’


CALGARY — A liquefied natural gas export project backed by a Canadian company on the U.S. West Coast secured its final federal permits, but analysts say the proposed project still faces tremendous uncertainty.

U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette issued Monday the final order authorizing export of LNG from Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corp.’s Jordan Cove LNG in Oregon. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had approved the project and authorized construction of the terminal and connected pipeline in March.

“Today’s authorization for Jordan Cove, the first U.S. West Coast LNG project, will ease access to further position the U.S. as a top supplier of LNG around the world,” Brouillette said in a release.

You could have all the approvals you want, but it doesn’t mean anything until it’s built and flowing volumes

Raymond James analyst Jeremy McCrea

The approval came after a number of rejections by U.S. regulators over the years, and the project remains contentious in the local community. The proposed US$10 billion project still requires state-level approvals, which suggests Pembina could continue to encounter opposition to the project in the state.

“Pembina is pleased with the issuance order by the DOE, which marks another momentous step forward for Jordan Cove,” the company said, if built, in an emailed statement, adding the terminal would export natural gas from both Canada and the U.S.

Sourcing the commodity from the Malin gas trading hub near the California/Oregon border would create “a new outlet for natural gas from areas such as the Rockies Basin,” Pembina said.

The company declined to provide a timeline for construction of the project, but has previously delayed an expected final investment decision for the project after regulatory setbacks. Pembina’s stock price fell 1.3 per cent to close at $32.45 on Toronto in a broadly negative market.

The energy secretary’s final order is a positive signal for the Canadian natural gas industry but “nothing is ever a sure thing now,” Raymond James analyst Jeremy McCrea said Tuesday.

“You could have all the approvals you want, but it doesn’t mean anything until it’s built and flowing volumes,” McCrea said, adding that he didn’t know what additional legal challenges the Jordan Cove LNG project could yet face.

On Monday, court decisions in the U.S. dealt setbacks to the Keystone XL pipeline project, which is under construction, and the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been operating for years, but is now required to shut down by Aug. 5.

“Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” said Chairman Mike Faith of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which led protests and legal efforts against the Dakota Access Pipeline. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”

McCrea said the legal challenges facing energy infrastructure projects make it difficult for oil and gas companies to celebrate approvals of projects such as Jordan Cove LNG. He also said the approvals come as the international market for LNG has deteriorated.

Data from ATB Capital Markets Research showed that LNG prices in Japan stood at US$2.15 per thousand cubic feet on Monday, compared to US$1.46 per mcf price in Alberta but not high enough to justify the cost to ship gas to a terminal, liquefy it and then transport the LNG across the Pacific to Asian markets.

“Given a glut of LNG in the face of challenged demand with COVID-19, European and Asian prices have collapsed to U.S. levels, driving out the incentive for U.S. LNG imports,” Eight Capital analysts wrote in a June 24 research note. They noted that U.S. LNG cargoes had fallen by 4.7 billion cubic feet per day compared with the first quarter of the year.

The analysts predicted that natural gas prices would eventually pick up at the end of the year when winter begins and consumers begin to draw on gas supplies to heat their homes.

The U.S. midstream gas industry also got a big boost this week when the world’s most well-known countercyclical investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. announced a US$10-billion acquisition of Virginia-based Dominion Energy Inc.

Over the weekend, Dominion and its joint venture partner Duke Energy Corp. had said they will scrap their US$8 billion Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline after years of delays and high costs, in what was seen as a major victory for environmental groups.

Citi Research analyst Ryan Levine called Buffett’s deal a “shot of adrenaline” into the midstream space and noted that Dominion’s asset portfolio included “FERC-regulated long-haul pipelines, gas storage and long-haul contracted LNG project with no growth in the Northeast U.S.”

• Email: gmorgan@nationalpost.com | Twitter:





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Hydro Tasmania subsidiary pushed ahead with dam project knowing of concerns


Hydro Tasmania’s consulting business pushed ahead with work on a northern Ugandan hydropower project despite acknowledging ongoing community concerns, reports of legal proceedings and corruption, technical issues, and poor workmanship, according to documents.

A worker also later died on-site in a shooting incident, according to a local police report.

Emails, briefing reports and screening summaries released to the Tasmanian Greens show Entura initially deemed the project “high risk”, but downgraded that to “medium” after a screening process, while acknowledging ongoing concerns with local community relations and environmental management.

Entura was contracted by PowerChina Huadong to provide advisory services for the Karuma hydropower project in March 2017.

Entura was effectively a sub-contractor on the project, managing a range of project stakeholders, undertaking design reviews and advising on compliance with international standards.

After questioning Hydro Tasmania in 2018 over reports of unsafe working conditions and a death at the site, Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff received partially-redacted documents showing Entura signed up to the project despite being aware of numerous issues.

“The obvious red flag is that Hydro Tasmania identified levels of community protest and outrage, they identified human rights issues, and they identified impacts on communities,” Dr Woodruff said.

Rosalie Woodruff says it appears Hydro did a number of assessments and went ahead regardless.(Facebook: Rosalie Woodruff)

One of the documents is an email discussing a potential site visit for two staff to the Karuma project in October 2016.

Eighteen Entura staff worked on the project for an average of 18 days each, between March 2017 and September 2019.

Five of those people worked at the construction site in Uganda, which was manned by security and defence force soldiers.

Risk downgraded after mitigation assessment

Entura conducted a sustainability screening process in November 2016, which initially rated the environmental and social risk of the project as “high”.

That means it included activities with “potential significant, diverse, irreversible and/or unprecedented adverse social and environmental risks and impacts” and/or “may, or has, raised significant concerns among potentially affected communities and individuals”.

It noted numerous reports of technical and governance issues, widely reported issues with construction, community concerns about lack of consultation and poor compensation, and reports of numerous legal proceedings.

As part of that project screening, Entura produced a “summary against sustainability code” document, which was a spreadsheet listing the risks, how they could be mitigated and what the residual risk would then be.

The document shows Entura downgraded the residual risk of the overall project after mitigation measures to “medium”.

A summary of the human rights issues, impact on communities and level of community outrage has been redacted but those elements are labelled “high risk”, even after mitigation.

Regarding how the community issues could be mitigated, the document states that Entura’s confined role in the project offers “limited scope to reduce community risk”.

The summary proposes the “high” risk of numerous technical issues could be downgraded to “medium” by ensuring “all designs reviewed by Entura were fit for purpose and met appropriate standards”.

After a site visit, comments were that onsite safety appeared to be adequate and the overall quality of the project was expected to be fit for purpose.

Before signing the contract with PowerChina, Entura also completed a sustainability screening of Uganda as a new market, rating it as “medium risk” and acknowledging the country had a poor record of human rights management.

“That sends a pretty strong signal to companies like PowerChina that regardless of what they do in countries, Entura is going to help them anyway.”

In a statement, an Entura spokesman said it screened all projects prior to signing agreements, and evaluated them against Hydro Tasmania’s sustainability code, which included social, environmental, economic and reputational criteria.

“Since November 2016, Entura has used additional criteria in its sustainability screening process,” the statement said.

Working relationship with PowerChina influenced decision to proceed

In an internal briefing report, Entura said it made the decision to proceed with the project for reasons including that the project was already in its third year of construction and that any social issues associated with resettlement had already occurred.

It said a site visit indicated no obvious safety concerns.

Entura logo
Tasmanian hydropower consulting company Entura downgraded the residual risk of the overall project after mitigation measures to “medium”.(entura.com.au)

Entura also listed the importance of its relationship with PowerChina as a reason for proceeding with consulting on the project.

In a statement, an Entura spokesman said the business had proceeded with the work in order to share the benefits of clean renewable energy with the developing world.

“We determined that while Entura’s involvement on the Karuma project was minor, within the limitations of our role, we had a positive influence on the project’s overall design, safety and sustainability,” the statement said.

Dr Woodruff said there was no justification for a public Tasmanian business to be involved in the Karuma project.

“But fundamentally, if it’s a dam that’s based on human rights abuses, legal fights with communities where land has been taken from them, and environmental issues, this is not something that Tasmanian people want their public money put towards.”

Entura unaware of 2018 shooting death

The documents released to the Greens include a police report into an incident in June 2018, where one worker died as a result of shots fired during a scuffle between workers and soldiers.

Group of people signing a deal.
PowerChina hired Entura to advise on the Karuma hydropower project.(Supplied: Entura)

In an internal briefing report from December 2018, Entura said the fatal incident occurred after its second-last visit to the site, and on the final visit in September 2018 there was no mention of the incident.

The report states that Entura was unaware of the shooting incident until Dr Woodruff raised the issue.

Entura had been informed about the death of another worker due to a hippopotamus attack outside the compound.

A spokesman said the business had also been made aware of a worker who took their own life.

There are some media reports of other deaths on site at the Karuma project, but these are not referenced in any of the information released by Entura.

The ABC has contacted PowerChina Huadong for comment.

Hydro Tasmania ‘obstructing our efforts’: Greens

The Greens sought access to correspondence regarding the Karuma hydropower project through Tasmania’s Right to Information Act (RTI) process in December 2018.

After some back and forth, Hydro Tasmania provided the partially redacted documents to Dr Woodruff in March 2019.

However, it later became apparent that the RTI response had not been issued by a delegated officer as required, and the Greens were therefore unable to progress their request for an Ombudsman’s review.

“Having a public entity obstructing the release of information in clear defiance of statutory deadlines is totally unacceptable.”

The Entura spokesman said Hydro Tasmania and Entura did not agree with Dr Woodruff’s characterisation, and had corrected the delegation error recently.

“[The operation has] also provided a process that actually speeds up the subsequent external review requested by Dr Woodruff,” he said.



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