SOME community members were left scratching their heads following recent community consultation meetings that were conducted by a Sydney research organisation, on behalf of an independent review into State government owned electricity provider, Transgrid.
The focus groups were carried out by Newgate Research who also conducted a series of in-depth interviews with some stakeholders and community groups who were directly involved in or affected by the proposed electrical corridor between Stroud and Lansdowne, however the selection process of who was invited to take part has been questioned by a number of community members.
Chairman of the Manning Alliance, Peter Epov said although he was pleased to see Transgrid conducting the community consultation, he was perturbed by the lack of "core stakeholders" involved in the meetings.
"Why didn't they speak with the core stakeholders before setting up the focus groups," he said.
"Although we encourage the review, in fact we welcome it, I'm concerned that it was not done objectively and transparently, I don't agree with the process that they've taken and I really want to know why they didn't feel the need to contact the alliance or Greater Taree City Council first."
The local project was abandoned in April and TransGrid was criticised in a State government-commissioned report into electricity prices on the Mid North Coast, for its handling of the controversial project.
The report's author, electricity industry engineer Robert Rollinson, included nine recommendations and said an independent review of TransGrid's consultation process was required.
These latest meetings are a result of the report, with Newgate saying the results of the consultations would be collated to supplement a submissions process being run by RPS in conjunction with Transgrid.
"This will allow anyone in the community with an opportunity to provide a submission, directly to RPS, on any aspect of TransGrid's consultation for the Stroud to Lansdowne project," Rachael Fox, a representative of RPS advised recently.
Ms Fox also said they planned to advertise the submissions process in the Manning River Times and would be writing to people affected by the project, with the final report due by December this year.
Some of the research techniques used in the focus groups included mind-mapping, word association and rating Transgrid between 0 and 100.
Those who attended were paid $90 cash for their time and all meetings were recorded by the company representatives.