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A very small price to pay

Energy giant AGL has got off lightly in a compensation settlement with the Moyne Shire over damage to roads during the construction of the massive Macarthur wind farm.

Although mayor James Purcell is talking up the $1 million the shire received from the company to re-sheet the Hawkesdale-Macarthur road, it is believed the sum falls embarrassingly short of the original claim.

Questions remain about whether AGL honoured the terms and conditions in the original planning permit and the shire does not have the stomach to take the issue any further, accepting the $1 million and preferring to move on.

It is not a good look and on the surface appears very much as though Moyne has been outsmarted by a large, cashed-up corporation.

This is especially annoying given that AGL and partner Meridian Energy seriously under-estimated the number of tip-truck movements by tens of thousands and as a result roads in the area were chewed to pieces.

Hence the compensation claim.

While AGL is fond of declaring that it is a good corporate citizen and cleans up after itself, the company must know that in this case it has ended up with a bill that is far more palatable than it could have been.

Some of the road damage falls outside Moyne’s sphere of influence and is the responsibility of VicRoads, but the state government too has been slow to pay for repairs.

Moyne councillor Jim Doukas is at odds with the mayor on the issue and believes the shire has been dudded twice – by AGL and the Victorian government and he has the support of long-suffering locals, not all of them miffed by the clean energy project, just the aftermath.

Ratepayers feel they have been let down by the state government and big business, but also the shire and it goes without saying that one way or another it is the ratepayers who will be paying for the damage for a long time to come.

Big-ticket investment in our district is welcome, but it should not come hand-in-hand with a lasting cost to ordinary citizens.