Dalton residents Allan Fowler and Renee Andrews were drawn to their property because of the incredible views over the valley.
They told the independent NSW Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) last week that AGL’s gas-fired power plant will sit right in the middle of that vista.
“The proposed plant is three kilometres in the direct line of site to our house,” Ms Andrews said.
Mr Fowler reiterated the concerns about their view in his speech to the commission, also noting his worries about the impact of noise from the biggest open cycle gas-fired power plant in Australia.
“Dalton is a quiet town and should remain that way,” he said. “I believe AGL know they will exceed the noise limits. That’s why they’ve included the land acquisition in their proposal.”
The NSW Department of Planning’s project assessment states if noise limits exceed 40 decibels (dB A) AGL will have to provide mitigation measures, including land acquisition.
The all-day PAC meeting was held last Thursday at the Gunning Shire Hall because AGL had made political donations to the NSW Labor and Liberal parties.
Dalton and Gunning residents were relieved they had the chance to address the independent PAC after AGL’s self-confessed lack of community engagement during the approval process.
Dozens of people spoke to the board, including Burrinjuck MP Katrina Hodgkinson, who had become involved since receiving almost 200 formal letters from impacted residents.
At the meeting Ms Hodgkinson said the power plant should not be approved due to potential noise issues, the questions over whether the plant is needed anyway, and the failing of AGL’s public consultation.
“While I recognise the need for development to meet the state's future energy needs, I question whether AGL's financial bottom line is, in itself, sufficient justification for the construction of a gas-fired power station within four km of the village of Dalton,” she told the PAC.
Ms Hodgkinson said if the power plant did get approval she would like to see stricter conditions put on the developer.
She said if the limitations put on AGL with regard to odour and noise are broken there should be consequences.
“The site should be immediately shut down until the cause is resolved,” the member for Burrinjuck said.
Ms Hodgkinson urged the PAC to make the “right decision for the right reasons”.
“If you approve this proposal then it is incumbent on you to make sure the development consent conditions will not have a severe adverse effect on the local community.”
Energy company AGL said it attended the meeting as an observer only and didn’t respond to questions on the day.
“The public meeting provided an opportunity for the community to communicate directly with the PAC as part of the assessment of the proposal,” an AGL spokeswoman said.
The PAC chairman Garry West said at the meeting if there were no outstanding issues the commission should come to a decision within two weeks.