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Energex scraps overhead lines

All over: Evelyn Despea kisses husband Leon after he took the Energex marker from the front of their Myall Street home. Energex scrapped the planned route for high voltage powerlines through Gympie after a public outcry.
All over: Evelyn Despea kisses husband Leon after he took the Energex marker from the front of their Myall Street home. Energex scrapped the planned route for high voltage powerlines through Gympie after a public outcry. Craig Warhurst

ENERGEX has scrapped a plan to run two 33,000 volt powerlines 15km through the middle of Gympie after an outcry by residents on the route.

At a public meeting on Wednesday night Energex Group Manager and Customer Advocate Mike Swanston apologised to residents on the path of the high voltage powerlines for their apparent lack of public consultation.

He conceded ads in The Gympie Times did not have a map showing the route of the powerlines and the 500 pamphlets outlining the project appeared to not have been delivered to residents.

“We will now not build overhead powerlines on that route,” Mr Swanston said.

“We will reopen all options including underground. People can go home and pull up the orange marker pegs (outlining the route) and burn them, if they want,” he said.

Yesterday Myall Street residents and anti-powerline petition organisers Evelyn and Leon Despea couldn’t believe the fight was all over.

“I had to ask twice to make sure of what the speaker (Mr Swanston) had said.

“’Did he just say scrapped’, I asked my husband.

Mrs Despea said the decision was a real surprise and that they were worried the battle was never going to stop.

“It is just amazing, we are so happy,” Mrs Despea said.

“We came straight home last night and Leon took the stake out of the ground - then Leon and I carried it to the backyard together,” she said.

The pair thanked everyone in the community who helped them in their fight against the project and thanked Energex for listening to the people.

“We were very impressed with Energex,” Mrs Despea said.

“They realised the powerlines would be a blight on Gympie and admitted their PR campaign didn’t work.”

The Despea’s now hope Energex will take the powerlines underground so no one else in Gympie will have the same problem.

“The poor people on the Southside are starting to worry now,” she said.

Mr Swanston said at the public meeting that all bets were off for the new route of the powerlines, but added the new substation near Nestle had to be connected to the Wises Road substation by summer next year.

He said the Wises Road Substation was nearing capacity and Energex would have trouble suppling electricity needs to the region if the new substation wasn’t on line by then.

Member for Gympie David Gibson, who organised the public meeting, said he was impressed with the way Energex listened to the people.

“It is great news for the community,” Mr Gibson said.

“It shows what the community can achieve when they work together. It is incredibly rare to get an organisation to rethink a plan. Let hope they can find a low impact way to supply power to Gympie."

Mr Gibson has asked any person with ideas to solve the power supply problem to contact him at his Monkland Street office.

Gympie Times


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