Energy Australia this week responded to concerns about the proposed Tallawarra B power station slated for the edge of Lake Illawarra by saying that they are seeking an engineering solution to the problem.
Tallawarra B has been the subject of some controversy as it stands within the circuit area of Shellharbour (Albion Park) Airport and a gas plume set to rise from the station has caused concern within general aviation circles.
Last year, CASA rejected a proposal to mitigate the plume by creating a danger area and last week AOPA Australia said that the Aeronautical Impact Assessement done by Energy Australia applied an inappropriate plume velocity for GA and recreational aircraft.
Energy Australia Tallawarra B Project Director Julian Turecek, himself a private pilot, said the company was still working on a solution that would pose no danger to GA.
"Every pilot knows there’s nothing more important than safety," Turacek told Australian Flying. "At Energy Australia, it’s our number one priority, too. We won’t do a project that poses unacceptable risks to the community or our people.
"We’re investigating an expansion to our existing Tallawarra power station, 5 km north-east of the Shellharbour Airport. Since last year, when Australian Flying first posted on the issue, we have made important project amendments. In particular, we are no longer proposing a designated Danger Area for aviation; instead, we are applying innovative engineering to bring the plume velocity well below 6.1m/s at 1000 feet AGL.
Turecek also said that they were working within the CASA guidelines and it was not their position to decide what plume velocity was appropriate.
"We published a draft Aeronautical Impact Assessment in mid-December last year and we’ll build the feedback we get into the final report, which goes to CASA in mid-February.
"We’re applying guidance from the Advisory Circular on plume-rise assessments (AC139-v05) in relation to critical velocities, and leaving it to others and CASA to resolve the debate as to whether 6.1m/s is the correct standard for aircraft operating in and around the circuit. Our responsibility is to meet the standard the experts set.
"That said, we have considered potential impacts to RAAus aircraft on approach to RWY 16 as well as GA aircraft climbing out on RWY 34. Neither case requires overflight of the power station, and certainly not for take-off and landing approach.
"To make doubly sure there are no adverse impacts to aviation safety, we will make pilots aware when the plant is operating, by way of dynamic lighting on the stack.
Turecek said his company believed that a solution that suited both parties could be found.
"We’ve been working closely with the local aviation community and we will continue to do so, because we want the best–and safest–project possible.
"All the engineering and analysis we’ve done shows one thing: aviation and an expansion of the existing gas plant at Tallawarra can co-exist safely."