Eden keeps waiting for approval on water plan
THE Eden Project has still not resolved the issue of where it will find the water needed for its ambitions in Anglesea to go ahead, but it has cut the possible number of options to fill the mine from five to two.
Eden Project International chief executive officer David Harland gave an update on the project in what he said was his seventh appearance at an Alcoa Community Consultation Network (CCN) meeting, held at the Anglesea Senior Citizens Centre on Monday night.
The $150 million eco-tourism project has been trying for months to lock in a source of water to fill the mine fast enough to make its plans viable.
At the previous CCN meeting in December, Mr Harland revealed the mine at 50 per cent (about 8-9 gigalitres) capacity – as opposed to the full 17 gigalitres – would be good enough for Eden, and this could take as little as five years.
On Monday, Mr Harland said three of the possible options to fill the mine – letting it fill naturally over 50 years, diverting Salt Creek onto its natural course into the mine, and the Lower Eastern View Aquifer – had been dropped in favour of using the Upper Eastern View Aquifer or recycled water.
He said Alcoa previously had a licence to extract four gigalitres a year from the aquifer for its Anglesea mine operations, but Eden would only use “less than half of that”.
Mr Harland said at December’s CCN meeting that he was initially opposed to a dedicated pipeline being built for recycled water from Breamlea purely for Eden. On Monday, he said there was a realisation “recycled water is going to be part of Australia’s future” so a pipeline may need to be built heading towards Anglesea anyway that Eden would be happy to buy water from (though it will not pay the capital cost of its construction).
The community response to the Eden Project proposal continues to be mixed, and this was reflected in the questions and comments put to Mr Harland on Monday night, including requests for more detail about Eden’s proposal.
In response, Mr Harland said “right now, we don’t have any more detail to give you” and would not until Eden had undertaken the next stage of planning works, which would cost about $5 million.