CRG lose people power but not passion

ALMOST half the members of a community panel set up to help decide the route of a new Warwick to Stanthorpe powerline have quit out of frustration with the process.

As reported last year, Ergon Energy plans to construct a second 110kV line, sections of which would divert from the existing line's route into rural residential areas west of Warwick.

Landholders voiced fears about lost property values, the size of concrete pylons and health effects, prompting Ergon to call for members of the public to form a Community Reference Group (CRG).

The power giant has committed to adopting a recommendation from the CRG on its preferred route for the powerline, if it falls with technical and budget constraints.

But the group has dwindled after its formation last July with six of the 13 members having resigned, most citing frustration with the number of meetings and with other members having vested interests due to their properties potentially forming part of the new route.

Independent facilitator John Dengate said despite the losses, the group was on the way to reaching its recommendation.

"The group is working well together but we have had a number of resignations for various reasons," he said.

"We currently have seven members and we will keep it at that because these are the ones who have done the work and have the knowledge."

Mr Dengate conceded group members initially thought the process would take six weeks but it had now been closer to 14.

He said the group had spent a lot of time researching the issue and members had now conceded there was a need for the power line.

"It seems now it is a matter of deciding just where they think it should go," he said.

"The group is doing work to start evaluating the various options they have and have been working through the criteria for selection."

Mr Dengate said the CRG, in making its decision, will consider the "health, visual, financial and environmental issues" of the alternative routes.

Group member Gordon Miller said he was optimistic a recommendation would be completed within the next two months, despite the loss of the members.

"Every time someone left it was a loss to the process but there is nothing we can do about it," he said.

"A few people got tired and a few butted heads."

Mr Miller added the group had been researching the issue and some members had "changed their priorities".

"We have come to an agreement that it's necessary to have the line but it's now about how we do that with the lowest impact," he said.

"I think it is all going fine and we are coming to the point where results will be seen."

One option for the new route other than passing through previously unaffected parts of west Warwick is to duplicate the existing 110kV line on Warwick's southside, as well as undergrounding any new diversions.

The CRG is next due to meet in Warwick on Thursday night.

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