Members will be aware from the May Newsletter, that a company called Greenearth Energy, has a proposal, use heat from a thermal, sedimentary aquifer located 3–4 km beneath the surface in the general area of Gherang, to generate electricity.
Wells will be drilled to bring the hot water to the surface, where it will be used for generation, then returned to the aquifer. The process appears very environmentally friendly. It does not involve fracturing rocks by underground explosions, and has no emissions, once established. Greenearth are currently investigating sites for drilling “proof of concept” wells to verify the hot water resource, which, if suitable, would be followed by installing a trial generating plant. Up to 12 generating plants, each of 12 Mw, and each one occupying 2–3 ha, could be installed following success of the trial.
Angair supports this project in principle. However, we are very concerned that the area under consideration includes part of the Heritage listed Anglesea Heath, with potential impact on threatened and endangered species and other, ecological values.
Angair has had several discussions with Greenearth, including visits to potential drilling sites. Our concerns are being taken into consideration. As part of its community consultation process, Greenearth has established a Community Reference Group, on which we are represented, along with Gherang residents and other interested people
Development of the project requires approvals from various government departments, such as DSE, Parks Vic, and EPA etc. The Department of Primary Industry manages this process, and stringent conditions will be applied. If approved, the initial drilling would not occur before 2012. As a next step, Greenearth will present options for the initial drilling site at a Community Information day to be held in mid-June 2011. This will be advertised locally. Angair will attend, and will make further comments as appropriate.
Our basic position is that development of any kind should not occur on the Anglesea Heath; however, we will review all proposals from an environmental perspective, and take appropriate action.