Mayor Blundell fears further delays for Emu Swamp Dam
SOUTHERN Downs Mayor Peter Blundell fears further delays to the already drawn-out Emu Swamp Dam project following a local government decision to lobby for tightened environmental offset regulations.
The $80 million project, planned near Stanthorpe, has gone through the environmental impact statement submissions process while the Southern Downs Regional Council is submitting a supplementary EIS.
Cr Blundell told the Local Government Association of Queensland conference in Brisbane of the "unenviable" position the council was in with having the dam project on the table for 15 years.
He argued that a motion to lobby the State Government to have environmental offsets secured within the same bioregion and ecosystem where a development was proposed, could add to the lengthy delay.
The motion was passed after prolonged debate.
Cr Blundell explained the council was looking into environmental offsets for the dam project interstate and were opposed to the restriction of finding the offsets within a specific bio region.
"Flexibility I have no problem with if those offsets are able to be accessed within the jurisdiction in which it is being discussed," he told the conference.
"That is all well and good, but in some cases, particularly in our case, that is not going to be able to be done.
"It's a big enough challenge as it is and this would make it that more difficult to try to achieve."
Rockhampton Regional and Brisbane City councils jointly put forward the motion.
Rockhampton Councillor Bill Ludwig citied a major project in Livingstone that led to $1 million in environmental offsets being spent 500km away.
"We believe there were ample opportunities to get greater environment and bio-regional outcomes at that particular junction of time but the inflexibility of the system certainly did not allow that at the time," he said.
The Emu Swamp Dam project was given a vote of confidence in May after Senator and Coalition Dams and Water Management Task Group deputy chairman Barnaby Joyce scrutinised - and was pleased with - the project.