Some disappointing tactics have been employed by pipeline company APA when dealing with landowners in their haste to construct a gas pipeline through their properties.
First APA advised that Melbourne is desperately short of gas and shortfalls could occur as early as 2020 if this infrastructure is not in place and operating.
The Premier has subsequently revealed on radio 774 that this is not the case and Melbourne has double its future needs. A more truthful answer may be that AGL believe they can source gas cheaper than from its current local suppliers.
Secondly APA’s approach to landholders involved telling them what they were going to do and if landowners didn’t like it they would use the Pipeline Act to achieve their outcomes.
Their consultation was a one-way conversation. They did not listen to alternate options for the pipeline route which better matched their own stated guiding factors for the pipeline route.
This approach of a large multi-national company towards small property owners can only be seen as unfortunate.
Their officers’ comments to landowners that they don’t care if landowners object as they will get ministerial approval to enter properties perfectly reflects the company approach.
To date APA’s credibility rating is close to and approaching zero and this matches their consultation efforts.
Landowners chose not to allow access to APA for survey purposes on more than one occasion. An officer advised me to be careful in making it hard for APA as it could be reflected in lower future compensation payments. The APA officer advised that he would be the one that dealt with compensation claims.
The truth of the whole saga is that the APA has made significant errors in selecting its pipeline route and to acknowledge such would be a major and costly embarrassment to officers within that company.
Perhaps APA’s board members should critically review the actions of these senior managers who appear to put their pride above admitting error in initial pipeline route selection. Their biggest error has been not acknowledging this fact in our initial meetings and being smart enough to adopt the alternative route option as a credible and better alternative
As the Premier has indicated there is no impending threat to Melbourne’s gas supply, the company should revisit its own pipeline route objectives and adopt our alternate route that far better matches them.
At the end of the day the Victorian Government under the Pipeline Act will be asked by APA to issue a licence to construct and operate any such pipeline.
Under the Act APA will have to list alternative pipeline routes investigated and the reasons for their adopted route. That part of their submission will make interesting reading when the relative merits of the two alternative routes are compared against APA’s own stated guiding factors for its pipeline route selection.
In view of the overwhelming evidence that APA have chosen the wrong pipeline route, I would expect that the application for a licence will be rejected.
I implore APA to cut their losses by abandoning their current surveys and going back to the drawing board and producing a pipeline route that should get government approval for a licence