xwindfarmtruck_1914Wind turbine tower sections, with load widths almost twice that of a normal truck, will be seen travelling on South Gippsland roads over the next six months.

HUGE trucks, the length of a triple road train, but almost twice as wide, will be plying the roads of South Gippsland, between the Port of Hastings and the Bald Hills Wind Farm site, from Tuesday this week until the end of October. The trucks, which will mostly travel at night, between the hours of 2am and 6am, will be carrying the massive components of the facility’s 52 turbines, each of which will be up to 110 metres high when complete. There will be 400 such truck movements over the next six months and it may be necessary for escort personnel to stop traffic at intersections or to direct motorists off the bitumen when they need to use both lanes of the road. Bald Hills Pty Ltd, which is developing the $300 million facility south of Tarwin Lower, issued a warning to local drivers about the deliveries this week, saying that the first delivery of tower sections from the Port of Hastings is due to be made on Tuesday, May 13. “We are very advanced in the construction of the access tracks and foundations for each of the 52 wind turbines and the commencement of deliveries of the key components for the wind turbines signals the start of the installation of the wind turbines,” Bald Hills spokesperson Matthew Croome said this week. It is expected that some turbines could start generating as early as December 2014 and the whole wind farm is expected to be completed and fully operational by the end of June 2015. “Most of the major components for the wind turbines will be arriving into the Port of Hastings on Western Port Bay. From there they will be transported by road via Wonthaggi and Tarwin Lower to the Bald Hills Wind Farm site at Tarwin Lower (refer to route map page 8). “Because of the size of the major wind turbine components, special over dimensional transport permits are required and transport movements must occur in the very early hours of the morning so as to minimise the impact to other road users. “It is a condition of the Vic Roads permit that these transport movements are completed in the very early morning and that the loads should be off public roads before 6am. “The deliveries of these major components are expected to commence on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 and be completed by end October 2014.” He said the wind turbines for Bald Hills Wind Farm are comprised of the following eight main components: Lower tower section, middle tower section, upper tower section, nacelle (body of turbine which sits on top of the tower and houses the generator), hub (which attaches to the front of the nacelle and to which the blades are attached), and three blades per turbine. “Each of these components, including the blades, must be transported on separate trucks due to their size and weight. This will mean over 400 truck movements during the above period,” Mr Croome said, Bald Hills Pty Ltd general manager. “Most of these components will be imported and shipped to the Port of Hastings on Western Port Bay, where they will be transferred to trucks fitted with special purpose trailers and transported to site. “The trucks transporting these loads will follow a route from the Port of Hastings, through Wonthaggi and Tarwin Lower and on to Bald Hills Wind Farm. “It is intended that trucks will depart Port of Hastings at approximately 2am and arrive at the wind farm site in Tarwin Lower between 5am and 5.45am. Because of the requirement for these loads to be off public roads before 6:00am, upon arriving at the wind farm site, the trucks will enter and park on site. No unloading of the trucks will commence until 7am. “Once the components are offloaded at the site, the empty trucks and trailers will return along the same route to the Port of Hastings.” Mr Croome said the trailers used to transport the various components would vary in their dimensions depending on which component is being transported Here is some of the detailed information regarding the truck and trailer dimensions and the size of the components and the transport arrangements: * It is expected that normally four components will be transported at a time in two convoys of two trucks. * Each truck or convoy will be accompanied by escort vehicles (driven by appropriately qualified personnel), which will travel in front of, and behind, the trucks to warn other road users. * The escort vehicles will have flashing orange lights and carry signs advising other road users of the over dimensional load. The trucks will also be fitted with flashing lights and carry signs. * The longest truck and trailer combination will be those carrying the blades, with an overall length of approximately 52m (typical rigid truck length is 12.5m or triple road train maximum 53.5m). * The widest load including trailer width will be approximately 4.75m wide (normal truck width is 2.5m). * Due to their size these trucks generally travel much slower than the posted speed limits. * Many of the specialised trailers, when empty, are able to be collapsed thereby reducing their size for the return journey. * Empty trucks returning from the wind farm site to the Port of Hastings will not require escort vehicles. “We ask that drivers follow any directions given by the escort personnel. Passing opportunities will be provided when it is safe to do so,” said Mr Croome. “In some cases where road conditions dictate, the truck may need to drive along the centre line, which will mean that oncoming traffic may need to pull off the road and stop while the trucks pass. “The escort vehicles will direct other road users in these cases,” he said.

Stop traffic “At some intersections along the route it may be necessary for the accompanying escort vehicle personnel to temporarily stop traffic to allow the trucks to negotiate the intersections,” Mr Croome said. “For other road users travelling behind the over dimensional loads, overtaking opportunities may be limited depending on the road conditions. “We would be very grateful if drivers in this situation could be patient and follow the directions of the escort vehicle personnel. “We urge drivers to take care around the load and escort vehicles as there may be some build-up of traffic, especially when the load and escort vehicles have to slow down at intersections or to cross bridges and culverts. We ask drivers to follow any directions given by the escort vehicle personnel.” He has also apologised to road users for expected delays. “Bald Hills Wind Farm understands that some road users may experience delays due to these deliveries and we thank drivers in advance for their cooperation and patience during the movement of these loads.” Should people have any queries or concerns regarding the wind turbine component deliveries they should contact Bald Hills Pty Ltd on 1800 027 689 or email to info@baldhillswindfarm.com.au.

Local jobs On the issue of local job opportunities at the Bald Hills Wind Farm construction site and the use of local contractors, Mr Croome has promised to provide this information to the Sentinel-Times this week ahead of his attendance at a South Gippsland Shire Council briefing session on Wednesday, May 21, next week.