Powerline walk out

WHAT started as civil meeting between concerned community members and Ergon Energy representatives spiralled into a walk-out when frustrations about a proposed Warwick-to-Stanthorpe 110kV powerline boiled over on Thursday night.

The meeting - facilitated by Member for the Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg - aimed to form a community reference group to determine which of the four proposed line routes would best suit the area.

"People were actually participating and I think they were growing to be comfortable with (the reference panel facilitator) John Dengate," Mr Springborg said.

But the meeting hit a rough spot when Ergon Energy regional asset manager David Shephard admitted the as-yet unformed community reference group only had eight weeks to make recommendations about the powerline which would be built by 2016.

Concerned landowner Philip Barker said he asked Mr Shephard when the deadline was.

"He replied the end of May," Mr Barker said.

"And someone else asked what year he meant, then there was some bad language and I got up and walked out.

"About eight people followed."

Mr Barker said he was happy with how the meeting started and was progressing before things went pear-shaped.

"We went there with open minds and in good faith," Mr Barker said.

Mr Springborg said he was committed to getting the best possible outcome from the community and, while he was "annoyed" at the meeting with the proposed May deadline, later discussions with Ergon Energy suggested it was not set in stone.

"It's regrettable it went that way when so much progress had been made," Mr Springborg said.

"The timeframe given is just ridiculous."

Mr Springborg said the end of July would be a more realistic deadline.

Ergon Energy Darling Downs operations manager Matt Gleeson accepted the time-line proposed was too ambitious.

"While a shorter process has been possible on some projects, it is clear a longer period will be required to achieve the best outcome for this project," he said.

He said Ergon Energy hoped the group could form and begin its deliberations in May and he expected it would then take several months to reach a conclusion.

Topics:  ergon energy, powerline, walk-out



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