The company behind a waste to energy proposal at Bungonia has changed tack in regard to its electricity transmission line.
Instead of connecting Jerrara Power's facility to the electricity substation at Goulburn, the line would run from the Jerrara Road site to a south Marulan substation.
The former is a 20km length and the latter, about 10km.
The change comes as Bungonia district residents refuse property access to the company's consultants to scope the electricity easement.
The Southern Highlands Progress Association has accused the representatives of "aggressive and unsavoury tactics" in their approaches.
This included "turning up unannounced, not leaving when asked and putting pre-signed contracts and business cards into people's mailboxes."
The draft contracts promise landowners a $1000 payment within 28 days if they agree to grant access at any time, and compensation for resultant "foreseeable damage." It also carries a confidentiality clause.
The Progress Association is reminding people of their legal rights.
Jerrara Power managing director Chris Berkefeld has rejected the claims.
The transmission line is integral to the company's proposed $600 million waste to energy plant at 974 Jerrara Road.
The facility would thermally treat up to 330,000 tonnes of mostly Sydney residual municipal, commercial and industrial waste annually and generate some 30 megawatts of power.
In July, Goulburn Mulwaree Council requested greater detail on the easement. A report stated that the exclusion of this material in a scoping study presumed that the transmission line was a "foregone conclusion" and ignored the potential impact on landowners.
On Tuesday, general manager Warwick Bennett was not aware of the altered route but reiterated the need for this detail given it would traverse private property.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has since requested this information.
Scoping the line
Mr Berkefeld said last week he was not aware of the conflict with landowners and only about three were "strongly resisting" access.
"(But) we do not have to enter all the properties to ascertain what is on the land," he said.
"...We have a pathway with the least amount of interference to people's properties."
He told The Post his consultants had not been in the field since August 9. Further, no pre-signed agreements had been left in people's mailboxes and documents were either hand delivered or emailed, where there had been prior consent.
Mr Berkefeld also rejected claims the consultants were going onto properties without consent.
A thorough technical review of the transmission line's route would not occur until 2022/23 and Jerrara Power was willing to spend money to make it work, he said.
Suzanne Milne, who lives off Jerrara Road on Glynmar Road, says she's not allowing access under any circumstances.
Consultants visited her twice over two weeks.
"I don't want an incinerator here," Miss Milne said.
"All the literature is very light and there's no mention of it being an incinerator. It's all about the electricity. I won't be giving them access because I'm against it. I'm worried about the emissions and the results of bringing all that rubbish."
Miss Milne was also concerned about the truck impacts on Jerrara Road and said the proposal was simply "in the wrong spot."
Jerrara Action Group member Leisha Cox-Barlow told The Post that many property owners were not allowing company consultants through the gates.
She said 10 to 15 residents, including those on Tickner Valley Way and Forest Close were refusing Jerrara Power access.
"It's more than what (the company) would like...People are adamant they don't want this."
However Mrs Cox-Barlow noted the number of Jerrara Road and surrounds property owners who were selling up. She could not say how many were due to concerns regarding the waste to energy proposal but estimated eight had sold in the past six months. These were fetching six-figure sums.
Delay in planning process
The action group has also welcomed the DPIE's decision to delay the issuing of Secretary's Environmental Requirements (SEARS) for the project.
The Department advised last week that these would not be issued until higher-level strategic policy work on NSW waste to energy plants was completed. This is part of the EPA's recently released Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041.
The council had pushed for a firm policy in its response to Jerrara Power's scoping report.
"We're absolutely happy SEARS have been delayed," Mrs Cox-Barlow said.
"The new guidelines should mean more stringent requirements so that's great for us."
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Jerrara Power does not expect to release its EIS until 2022 as a result.
Mrs Cox-Barlow was scathing of the fact DPIE had stated it would now assess the proposal as electricity generating infrastructure, rather than a waste facility.
"I have told (the department) that Jerrara Power would only generate enough electricity to power its own plant," she said.
"We (also) have Chris Berkefeld on film saying that it is ultimately an incinerator and that $80 million (or 70 per cent of income) would be earned each year from waste. It is not electricity generating."
Mr Berkefeld said the facility would generate enough electricity to power 45,000 homes.
Mr Bennett concurred with Mrs Cox-Barlow that it was a waste generating project and pointed to this description on Jerrara Power's website.
"There's no way there can be electricity without burning waste," he said.
"In describing it as electricity generating, I don't think the department is showing a lot of administrative neutrality, which it should be."
The GM said the fact that politicians and the department had listened to the council's argument regarding the need for a refined waste to energy policy, was "very encouraging."
In related news, Jerrara Power's community reference group, comprising council, resident and six community representatives, held its first Zoom meeting last Thursday. It will meet monthly.
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