‘Forget the Premier, I’ll talk to Elon Musk’

DEVELOPER Bob Ell's war with the NSW Government has escalated, with him threatening to go to Tesla boss Elon Musk for a giant battery to power his northern NSW estates.

A furious Mr Ell fired another broadside at the Berejiklian Government on Tuesday claiming it was delaying his giant $8 billion Kings Forest and Cobakai Lakes projects on the NSW border.

The Leda Group boss said the future of his long-proposed developments were at risk because the NSW Government wants the developer to spend more than $30 million to build an electricity substation for the project. He claimed the government had previously assured him its state agency Essential Energy would fit the bill.

Bob Ell
Bob Ell

But Tweed MP Geoff Provest this week said it was "inappropriate" for taxpayers to foot the bill for a power substation.

But Mr Ell said he was now mulling a deal with Mr Musk, a fellow billionaire whose company Tesla built a giant battery for South Australia.

"We could approach Tesla and get a battery like the one supplied to South Australia," he said.

"If the NSW Government cannot perform, we will go and talk to Musk about it because right now, the planning system is broken.

An aerial of the Cobaki Lakes development.
An aerial of the Cobaki Lakes development.

"The Queensland Government is far ahead of the NSW Government in terms of being pro-infrastructure and job creation."

Mr Ell insisted the NSW Government had "abandoned" the Tweed at a time when creating new jobs was critical due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"There would hardly be a project outside of Sydney which would create more work," he said.

"The NSW Government just keeps putting obstacles up against this project while we have spent more than $150 million getting to this point."

 

Kings Forest is expected to be home to 4500 properties while Cobaki Lakes will become a 5500-home masterplanned community.

In a scathing letter to NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean and Ms Berejiklian, Mr Ell this month warned the projects, which he says are worth a combined $8 billion in economic value and would create thousands of jobs for Gold Coast tradies, would be delayed by more than 18 months and the cost of the new infrastructure would be forced onto new buyers to the tune of $4000 per house.

Mr Ell has received no response to his letter from the NSW Government - which also didn't respond to Bulletin queries this week.

TUESDAY

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's government has been blasted by one of Australia's richest men for holding up more than $8 billion of development with a so-called "electricity tax".

Gold Coast-based billionaire Leda Group boss Bob Ell says the future of his long-proposed Kings Forest and Cobaki Lakes developments are at risk because the NSW Government now says the developer will have to spend more than $30 million to build an electricity substation for the project.

The Cobaki Lakes land Photo: Supplied
The Cobaki Lakes land Photo: Supplied

Previously the government had assured him the cost of this project would be borne by Essential Energy, he claims.

In a scathing letter to NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean and Ms Berejiklian, Mr Ell warned the projects, which he says are worth a combined $8 billion in economic value and would create thousands of jobs for Gold Coast tradies, would be delayed by more than 18 months and the cost of the new infrastructure would be forced onto new buyers to the tune of $4000 per house.

Bob Ell
Bob Ell


"You will appreciate how important these projects are with respect to the many thousands of jobs that will be created during the build out phase as well as on a permanent basis," he wrote.

"Now ready to start, we are made aware that there is only power for 160 homes at Kings Forest and none at Cobaki."

Mr Ell warned the delay would hurt the Gold Coast and Tweed regions as they attempt to recover from the COVID-19 downturn.

"Our projects are ready to go … this additional delay means that the desperately needed jobs that the projects will create for the region are still not being created," he said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

"This cost … can only be described as an electricity tax. I expect that you would want to review this particular matter as it seriously undermines your intention to reduce electricity costs for the people of NSW."

Mr Ell has received no response to his letter from the NSW Government.

Kings Forest is expected to be home to 4500 properties while Cobaki Lakes will become a 5500-home masterplanned community.

Mr Ell, who divides his time between the Gold Coast and Sydney, bought the 605.4ha Cobaki property southwest of Gold Coast Airport in 1994 and has long attempted to make the housing estates a reality.

Ms Berejiklian's office did not respond to requests for comment.

Geoff Provest. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James Gourley
Geoff Provest. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James Gourley

But Tweed MP Geoff Provest hit back at Mr Ell's approaches, insisting it was "inappropriate" for taxpayers to foot the bill for a power substation.

"Other developers in the area have had to pay for substations to provide electricity to their projects," he said.

"There are rules within the department of planning and I would strongly suggest Leda Group follow those.

"It is disappointing given we need more affordable housing in the Tweed, yet they are now asking for taxpayers to fund it. I don't think it is appropriate at all."

Originally published as 'Forget the Premier, I'll talk to Elon Musk'

Kings Forest.
Kings Forest.


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