By John Edwards, June 2009
I wonder how much research is undertaken by bodies such as “Engineers Australia",
when granting awards of excellence, and in particular to the Shannon Creek Dam.
On 13
th
May, 2009, the Grafton Daily
Examiner ran a front page story
claiming:
“Shannon project a
“masterpiece".
Having seen the
consequences of some of decisions
made by the dam's builders, Leighton
Contractors, we believe very little
investigation is undertaken before
awarding these accolades.
Part of the construction contract for
the Shannon Creek dam was the
upgrading of 9km of rural roads from
Coutts Crossing to Shannondale,
where a 4.5km long new section of
access road commenced from North
Coast Water's property boundary, to
the dam site.
Without going into too much detail,
and boring readers in the process, a
decision was made to use crushed
sandstone as the road base, which was
excavated from a cutting through a
ridge-line east of Shannon Creek.
However, there was a major stumbling block, a
Phytophthora cinnamomi
Plan of
Management (
P.c.
PoM), specifically disallowing transfer of soil or rock material off
site to prevent spread of the dieback-causing pathogen. The
P.c.
PoM was part of an
extensive Species Impact Statement presented as part of the approval process by the
proponent, North Coast Water (NCW), a business arm of Clarence Valley Council.
In a somewhat
incestuous
relationship, NCW is the proponent, and Council the
Consent Authority, but that comes in handy if the proponent wishes to drop a few of
its inconvenient mitigation measures. Clearly, the PoM had to go, and go it did,
NCW notifying the Council, as consent authority, the week before work was due to
commence. The Department of environment and Climate change, another consent
agency, was not informed until a month or so
after
work had started.
The Shannon Creek Dam
gets an undeserved award