Archive: Natural Gas Connection, Macedon Ranges

Last Updated 14/11/06 



Natural Gas In Woodend And Macedon - What A Blast!

(8/9/06 - SG) Like the three bears, some people have too much, and some have none...

The celebration of natural gas in Woodend and Macedon went off with a fair bang last week when local Labor MP Joanne Duncan and Treasurer John Brumby almost lost their eyebrows and eyelashes to the event.  Residents may have seen photos in local papers of the 'blast' of flame when Mr. Brumby lit the match (so to speak), and of he and Joanne backing off at a rapid rate.


On the other hand, MRRA heard this week a Woodend resident close to the supply lines has received a quote for $13,000 to connect. 



Natural Gas Isn't Proving To Be A "Goer"

(10/6/06 - SG)  Some of those who haven't got it want it, but many of those that could have it seem to be saying 'Thanks, but no thanks'


MRRA Says:

You probably read the oh-so-optimistic and bubbly article in last week's Express about how 400 homes in Woodend have signed on for natural gas. That wasn't the part that interested MRRA, it was the potential 1000+ homes and businesses in Woodend that could connect to gas that caught our eye.  On these figures, 400 connections translates into a 40% or lower take-up rate.  Why is this of interest?  We've had some community feedback that in one of the longest streets in Riddell, not a single household has signed on for gas (much to the dismay of the supplier) and nor are they likely to.  Why?  Costs.  Costs of connecting and replacing/buying appliances.  As one of the supplier's employees said, all that infrastructure going to waste... 



Reticulated Gas: Local Labor MP Joanne Duncan Says Maps Of Where Gas Will Go Are Now Available

(30/5/06 - SG)  It's a bit late isn't it?  MRRA called for this information to be made public 18 months ago

In this month's Woodend Star, local Labor MP Joanne Duncan announces that maps of where the first round of reticulated gas connections are going are now available.  MRRA called on Ms Duncan and the State government to provide this and other information over 18 months ago, and shortly after called for an Environment Effects Statement (EES) to try and get information in the public arena.  If relevant information had been provided then, if people had known who would get subsidized connections (in the first round) and who wouldn't (and would have to pay themselves in the second round), perhaps some of the red-hot anger some residents now have - at being led to believe it would happen for them - could have been avoided.  Perhaps gas is no longer the election winner it might once have been thought to be...  Click here to see what Joanne has to say.  Click here to see what MRRA said in October, 2004. 



All Out Of Gas?  Natural Gas Hits Hurdle In Woodend

(2/9/05 – SG) Town residents  definitely “not happy” as gas bypasses them

Residents in High Street Woodend, south of the railway line, are not happy at missing out on natural gas.  It seems connection is now to be in Stage 2 instead of the anticipated Stage 1.   There is apparently an issue with environmental sensitivity that hasn’t been overcome yet.   This area of High Street is part of the Black Forest – it has lots of trees.


MRRA Says:

These are the type of surprise issues MRRA feared when it aired concerns that there simply hasn’t been enough information provided to residents about the natural gas connection project.   Let’s hope these residents don’t have to wait too long.



Macedon Labor MP Joanne Duncan Gives Rock Solid Assurance On Natural Gas

(16/8/05 – SG) No native trees to be removed or damaged in natural gas rollout (Woodend Star, August 2005).

MRRA notes that Local Member Joanne Duncan has said categorically that no native trees will be removed or damaged by works to install natural gas connections in the Macedon Ranges’ towns of Woodend, Macedon, Gisborne, Riddells Creek, Romsey and Lancefield, and the bits in between.  We are pleased to hear it and will hold Joanne to it.   Now, where’s the same assurance for our non-native trees, including street trees and avenues in each town?



UPDATE  Re: MRRA Calls For Environment Effects Statement (EES) Process for Natural Gas Rollout

(24/7/05 – SG) Macedon to be consulted:  From articles in last week’s local papers it seems that while works have already commenced to connect Macedon to natural gas, residents of the township will be consulted in 3 to 4 weeks time.


MRRA Says:  Consulted after the fact?  Nice one!



MRRA Calls For Environment Effects Statement (EES) Process for Natural Gas Rollout

(8/7/05 – SG) Major infrastructure project but not enough information on costs and impacts on native vegetation, street trees, roads and services…

Macedon Ranges Residents’ Association has issued a press release calling for the State government to undertake an Environmental Effects Statement (EES) process for the roll-out of natural gas in Macedon Ranges.  See Press Release.


MRRA Says:

The State government has dropped the ball on natural gas.  How dare it think all it has to do is produce draft plans, grab a planning permit and turn up for the photo opportunity just before the next State election!   The Association has long held concerns at lack of information and consultation about this issue.  People in Macedon Ranges want some answers BEFORE the tear-up begins, not least about costs and damage to the environment.  If an EES is the only way to get some facts, then that’s the way this has to go.



“Natural” Disaster:  Gas Rolls Out, Trees Come Down

(25/6/05 - SG) Coming to a street near you!

At its 22/6/05 meeting, Macedon Ranges Council approved a planning permit (P205-0225) to allow TXU and its contractors to remove native vegetation in the path of natural gas pipelines.  Significant native grasslands near Riddell are also affected.  Although maps were provided in the officer’s report to Council, they don’t show where and how much vegetation will be removed.  For example, only two small areas in one street in Gisborne are identified as trees where boring (under the trees) could be needed.  What about the rest?  There is a Vegetation Assessment, but MRRA understands even Councillors hadn’t seen it when they gave TXU the green light.   Apparently not addressed at all are ‘exotic’ trees – oaks, elms and other non-native street trees that are found (and valued) in each town. The gas connections affect many town areas with substantial and significant street trees, but under the planning scheme TXU won’t need a planning permit to remove them.   A late attempt by Council to have some say in what happens to exotic street trees saw a change in permit conditions, but who knows if the condition will ‘stick’.  There is also an error in the permit conditions.


MRRA Says:

This situation is outrageous.   Last October MRRA asked local MP Joanne Duncan to tell the community what impacts connection to natural gas would have on the environment, roads and other features.  No information was provided.  And we still don’t know.    If Council didn’t know what it was approving, why did it issue a planning permit?   Why does it appear no-one thought of impacts on ‘exotic’ street trees until now?   At this point, we don’t actually know whether vegetation losses to connect to natural gas are going to be more or less than burning wood for heating.   It’s also of concern that maps provided in the officer’s report to Council show extensive areas in towns where the location of essential services’ connections are “unknown”.   Does this mean unannounced interruptions to services are on the cards?   Some roads are also to be dug up, causing further disruption, and at this stage it looks as if the gas pipeline is going right through the new flood levy bank in Pyke Street, Woodend.   Is gas the next Fast Rail fiasco?


There should have been extensive public consultation on these impacts.  A report that addresses impacts on exotic street trees should have been publicly available, and the (Native) Vegetation Assessment should also have been a public document.  YOU should be putting heavy pressure on Joanne Duncan and the State government for some answers, and some semblance of consultation.  In the meantime if you value trees in your area, you might just have to be prepared to stand on the street and defend them when lucky old you sees the State government’s natural gas rollout steamrolling down your road.   Is natural gas good for Macedon Ranges?  At this stage, the only honest answer seems to be ‘it’s definitely not off to a good start’.



Gas ‘Naturally’ - Will We Ever Be Consulted?

(21/3/05 - SG) The politicians have shouldered shovels and natural gas is rolling out, but where, when, and how much?   Will we ever get some answers?

Does anyone know what’s going on?   Last October the Association expressed concerns with the announcement that Macedon Ranges is being connected to natural gas.  At that time, MRRA asked the State government to give residents some answers to some pretty basic questions.   We aren’t aware of any new information, but have heard reports works are about to start / have started.  Residents are entitled to be consulted about this issue and to have information available.   So MRRA asks, what’s the big secret?    Here’s what MRRA said last October.   If somebody’s got some answers, we’d love to hear from you.


"The Association hasn’t been able to form a view on natural gas connection because of the lack of information available.  Now’s the time to get this information out in the public.  MRRA repeats concerns recently expressed to local member Joanne Duncan:


At the moment people are really being asked to sign up for something they don’t actually know anything about, whether it will be a benefit or disbenefit to them.  It may look like Macedon Ranges has won Tattslotto, but how many people do we have to share the prize with?


Alarm bells ring when John Brumby says the connection will service 20,000 people and booming industrial growth.  This builds on new government growth projections that will see Macedon Ranges become suburb of Melbourne, and with today’s announcement, an industrialized one at that.  Does Macedon Ranges have to become a suburb to make gas connection viable?   Is that why the State government is connecting the same towns to Melbourne Water?  Is this why it won’t protect Macedon Ranges?”