Drain ordeal continues

The responsibility of the Morwell Main Drain is still up in the air following a hearing in the Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday.

Latrobe City Council and Hazelwood Power Partnership returned to court last week after HPP sought leave to appeal a Supreme Court decision made in November.

HPP sought to transfer management of the drain to Latrobe City Council, which has maintained ratepayers should not bear those costs.

“We have had to continue to fight this matter to the fullest extent possible,” Latrobe City chief executive Gary Van Driel said.

“We have to protect the interest of our ratepayers, and we have to protect the future viability of our municipality.”

A GDF SUEZ statement said the partnership was “seeking orders from the court that the MMD is a ‘public drain’ under the Local Government Act”.

“And that Latrobe City Council is responsible for the management of it, as most of the water flowing through the MMD is public drainage water from council’s network,” the statement read.

“HPP is also seeking orders that council has no right to discharge public drainage water into the MMD, unless the MMD is acquired by council. In the proceeding, HPP is not seeking any compensation from council, including for maintenance costs incurred by HPP.”

Mr Van Driel said the community accepted the economic benefits and at times environmental and social consequences that flow from having power stations within the municipality. But he said the community should not bear the burden of the drain’s financial costs.

Latrobe City believes it could be months before a judgement is handed down.

HPP would not make further comment while the matter was before the court.