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|Editions > 2005 > October||Saturday May 25, 2013 - Melbourne Time: 04:07:10|
Alpine Shire prepares for hydro development
Alpine Shire located in north east Victoria is supporting a proposal by Southern Hydro to extend its hydro electricity capacity in the Kiewa Valley by constructing a new power station at a cost of $130 million. Council has been in discussions with Southern Hydro since the end of last year to ensure that affected communities will be looked after.
Alpine CEO, Doug Sharp, said the project will create about 200 jobs during the construction phase. The drilling of a six kilometre tunnel will produce more than 120,000 tonnes of crushed rock, meaning a truck will leave the construction site every eight minutes.
“New Zealand studies showed that to get the best outcome for the region, we needed to assess the impacts, identify opportunities and develop strategies to capitalise on the project early on,” Doug Sharp said. “The key questions were how do we best meet the needs, accommodation and schooling for families involved in the development, while ensuring the existing community doesn’t suffer a boom and bust experience. This is a major tourist area and construction activity could impact on visitors to Falls Creek and Mt Beauty.”
Doug Sharp said that traffic management was a major priority in order to maintain visitor access to businesses in Kiewa Valley.
“If it is done poorly, the financial impact on the whole valley could be severe,” he said. Council has received $40,000 from the State Government’s Regional Development Victoria fund toward a Social and Economic Issues and Opportunities Study for the Kiewa Valley.
Alpine Shire and Southern Hydro also contributed to the study that will look at the impacts of the power station and how they can be alleviated. Council has also identified the potential for crushed rock from drilling to be used in road construction. The value of the gravel greatly reduces the cost of road construction, making it more appealing to all parties.
“We brought together government agencies and other stakeholders and asked for a commitment to what is a once in a lifetime opportunity to seal a 31 kilometre stretch of road from Falls Creek to Omeo,” Doug Sharp said. “Once this road is sealed, it will allow three seasons access, create a major tourist loop and also an enjoyable through road to East Gippsland.”
Road construction is expected to cost $6.5 million and work on both the road and construction of the hydro is expected to take place from 2006 through to 2008.
Council’s planning staff have began amending the Alpine Planning Scheme to facilitate the development, after State Planning Minister, Rob Hulls, recently announced the project did not require an Environmental Effects Statement.
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