People power generates apology

COUNTRY Energy has admitted it made a major mistake by failing to consult with people about plans for its Ballina substation.

At a public meeting this week, regional general manager Rich- ard Wake said he was investigating why residents were not told about the proposed works, which include upgrades to facilities and a new storage shed for potentially toxic transformers.

“Did we do enough? Absolutely not,” he said.

“We let you guys down. Generally, we don’t get things this badly wrong.

“But we genuinely believe we are making a bad situation better.

“I can only apologise. As a learning exercise, it has certainly been second to none. We did not get it right on this occasion.”

More than 20 concerned residents attended the meeting.

Some told Mr Wake they had ‘no idea’ Country Energy was upgrading the substation until an insurance company representative knocked on their doors and asked to film inside their homes for insurance purposes.

“We had no warning at all,” one resident said.

Others complained the substation was an industrial development in a residential area.

But Mr Wake said Country Energy had no intention of relocating the depot.

“We were there first,” he said.

“We have quite an investment in that site. We are trying to develop the site so it’s as efficient and as sound as it can possibly be.

“What we are doing is specifically aimed at improving our environmental impact. You don’t have to believe me.

“We strive to go above and beyond compliance.”

Vera Street resident Melanie Shortt said it was good to start open discussions with Country Energy about locals’ concerns.

“We all have to live here and we want it (the substation) to be safe for our kids and for the environment,” she said.

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