Dalton residents are worried they could lose their homes if the proposed gas-fired power plant doesn’t meet imposed standards.
Local resident opposing the development Phil Waine, said AGL had mentioned acquisitions or alterations to homes if noise or vibrations exceed accepted levels.
“With that refusal to commit to fixing the problems with the site… then we’re being made to face the cost or inconvenience… if they can’t meet the [standards] then it comes back to us giving the option of being bought out,” Mr Waine said.
Nigel Bean head of generation development at AGL said they were asked by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to negotiate an arrangement for acquisition with neighbours if the company were to exceed limits. However, he said that wasn’t likely to happen.
“If we’re approved we will have extremely strict limits put upon us and we are designing and building a plant that will comply,” Mr Bean said.
He said if there was any issue with the plant it would be shut down and fixed.
Approval for the power plant is approaching after the NSW planning department approved AGL’s submission response.
The company held a meeting in Dalton last week to discuss its response with concerned members of the community.
Mr Waine said there was a sense of dissatisfaction with the company’s approach to the community.
Mr Bean said AGL would be first to admit it needed to improve community engagement.
“Where we need to focus is on communicating more effectively and building trust,” the head of generation development said.
Anti power plant campaigner Chris Morgan said the time to build trust would’ve been when the submission period was open last year. He said the fact there were only a few submissions during that time shows the locals were oblivious to what it might mean for the community.
“They now claim that they want to be the good corporate citizen,” Mr Morgan said. “The meeting they held the other night should’ve been held 12 months ago.”
To solve the issues within the community AGL has proposed to have a community consultative committee with up to 10 locals and a couple of AGL representatives.
Mr Bean said the committee should be up and running by early July. He said the committee would be an effective channel for people to ask questions and raise concerns.
Mr Waine was sceptical the committee would represent the entire community’s concerns.
Mr Bean said, like committees of councils, members of the public could go along and observe and possibly address the committee.
Community members want to have another meeting on May 18 so state MP Katrina Hodgkinson could attend.