Letters to the Editor

Hunter Gas Pipeline

In the Newcastle Herald on September 22, Hilton Grugeon, a shareholder in the Queensland Hunter Gas Pipeline, said "...but this is infrastructure of a type that a couple of farmers, or a couple of landowners, cannot deprive the country of the benefit."

Perhaps Mr Grugeon should check with his majority shareholder to get some facts right before making such an inflammatory statement.

From my garden I can see at least a couple of dozen farmers and landowners, some directly affected, some within the 200m corridor and the rest affected in other ways by the construction of this infrastructure. Imagine my relatively small area being replicated along the whole length of the 820km pipeline.

Due to the lack of credible answers from the proponent and MPs, communities are now doing their own searches into the viability of this project, talking to each other it's called the bush telegraph and it is extremely effective. We are finding that different information is being given to different landowners.

We are discovering that some of the information submitted to the Planning Department in 2008, and approved in 2009, was based on out of date data. Some of it was13 years old at the time, and now, some 11+ years later, it is at least 24 years out of date.

Of more concern is that the 2019 Five Year Extension approval stated that there had been "no material changes" since the project was originally approved. No material changes? After all these years? Come on.

In my neighbourhood alone I know of 3 subdivisions, which must surely constitute a material change. The route of the Hunter Gas Pipeline was put forward as providing gas to various industrial zones, most of which are now getting their gas from other suppliers.

The current pipeline route also follows numerous exploration licenses from south of Moree to Muswellbrook, which could become future CSG fields. The exact route is as yet unknown.

There have been three suggested routes for the pipeline through our property, one of them severely impacting our only entry and exit. We don't know where it will go, but what we do know is that the original route, which was some distance away, was changed due to incorrect information relating to the Wallalong Brush Conflict Site being submitted.

After employing the services of a consultant archeologist, it has now been confirmed that the site is some 26Ks from Stanhope Creek, therefore the original submission was false and misleading and has led to at least 8 other properties being impacted by the realigned pipeline route.

The proponent has also said that "Everyone will be compensated for any losses. If we break a fence or they can't use a field, we will compensate them for the loss of the crop for that season".

So it comes down to a one off payment for that season. What about the other seasons the farmers will lose out on? Are we expected to bear the losses thereafter?

We will have already lost land to the 30m corridor, and whatever length it crosses our land, which could devalue our property and in some cases make it uninsurable. So are we now expected to take a further hit on our income to support what could become a stranded asset in a number of years?

Who is going to compensate us for these losses - the federal government? As far as local landowners are concerned, the proponent has given no indication of the types, classification or calculated compensation they can expect.

Landowners in my area have been in contact with Singleton Council, but local government is limited in what they can do as this is a state project. Hunter Gas Pipeline Pty Ltd have requested the federal government assist with underwriting the $1.2b project. This would be our taxes paying for this pipeline to go on our private properties for the financial benefit of a private company.

Other suppliers of gas have stated that they would not require government funding. Why is HGP asking for Government assistance when they have repeatedly said they were being privately funded? Can someone please tell us why a state project cannot go on the already surveyed service roads running alongside railway lines and freeways?

The planned Newcastle gas terminal hub would be a far more effective source of gas for NSW and the lower east coast of Australia. Furthermore, the proposed Tomago LNG terminal and gas peaking power plant combination, which is already connected to existing pipeline infrastructure, would be more useful as it will have the capability of delivering gas from variable sources. Therefore it could supply peaking gas to NSW and beyond if required and would have less impact on the environment.

If our federal member Joel Fitzgibbon and our state representative Michael Johnsen had accepted an invitation, which our Mayor and Deputy Mayor did, to come to a recent community meeting they would have heard from impacted landholders.

In view of the errors that landowners along the length of the pipeline are now finding, Messrs Fitzgibbon and Johnsen really need to think hard about their support for the Queensland Hunter Gas Pipeline.

Mr Fitzgibbon's backing of a new power station at Kurri Kurri and his recent comments that the "Hunter Region can remain the powerhouse of NSW" might mean future visitors to the vineyards, who bring thousands of $s to the region, should be warned to not only wear a COVID mask but perhaps have a ventilator handy to combat the fumes emitted by this "powerhouse".

Their bottle of 'full bodied' Shiraz with its 'notes' of black fruit and pepper spice should include 'with a hint of CH4 and a note of CO2'. It might also need a health warning.

Roland and Susan Johnson