A few years ago the Rookwood Weir project got derailed when the cost of building turtle ladders blew out the project's costs. When we want to build a dam to grow food any frog, snail or turtle is an immediate roadblock to progress.
A few weeks ago the Queensland Government announced that it would spend $12 billion to build a pumped hydro dam in the Pioneer Valley. The project will flood one of the few remaining habitats of the endangered Eungella Day Frog.
The rules are different when you want to build a dam to support solar and wind investors. The frogs, apparently, can go get stuffed.
The Queensland Government announced this $12 billion project without a single environmental study. Not a single official from the Government had set foot in the Pioneer Valley. They had done no geological testing. They had spoken to no locals about the wisdom of putting massive amounts of water on top of hills that are prone to mudslides.
The Queensland Government is committing $12 billion of your taxes based on a desktop study by academics from the Australian National University. These academics had surveyed 3000 sites for potential pumped hydro projects on what is effectively Google Maps.
But while the Queensland Government was busy talking to Professors, they failed to communicate with local Queenslanders.
A couple of weeks ago I travelled to the Pioneer Valley to talk to the residents impacted by this decision. I met a father who found out from his school aged daughter that their house would be flooded. She had heard about it on social media. The Queensland government stands condemned for making families find out through the news that their homes would be literally turned upside down.
It is clear that the Queensland Government's so-called energy plan is more about press releases than real projects.
In the weeks since the Government's announcement the Pioneer Valley has been invaded by an army of bureaucrats from the newly formed Queensland Hydro. Decked out in shirts that seem to have been freshly delivered from a RB Sellars catalogue, these Brisbane based officials have had few answers for locals about how this project will work.
People have been left in the dark without legal representation and allegedly pressured to start considering selling their home. Whatever you think of green energy this is no way to treat people. I have written to the new CEO of Queensland Hydro asking the Government pick up its act and at least do what good mining companies do and fund lawyers for all affected residents.
If the Queensland government was serious about providing jobs in the regions, why isn't Queensland Hydro based in the regions where the dams will be built
This project doesn't just flood thousands of hectares of pristine Queensland wildlife it will cost a bomb. For $12 billion we could build 6 new coal fired power stations. This would provide more power than the dam and it would be power that would be on all the time.
The pumped hydro project doesn't produce power. It uses more power to pump the water up the hill that it generates on letting the water go downhill.
Overall the Queensland Government's energy plan is set to cost $62 billion. And, if we are lucky, we will end up with the same energy system we had before. There will be no new industries or extra power for Queenslanders. We will spend over $60 billion to stand still.
But that money has to be repaid and it will be added to all of our electricity bills. I am not sure we need some academics to work this one out but people can't afford their power bills now. So the Queensland Government should go back to the drawing board and get a plan that lowers people's living costs not one that just provides more money to renewable energy investors.