Two monstrous wind turbines are already stretching up towards the sky over the hills at Tarwin Lower as the developers of a 52-turbine energy generation facility lay claim to the land and airspace around Bald Hills. M232214
THEY are huge! There’s no other way to describe the size of the 135 metre wind turbines rising above Bald Hills, south of Tarwin Lower.
Already two turbines with blades attached have been erected and a further three towers, each 90 metres high, are in place as well.
But there are a further 47 to go.
“There is a realisation now in the local community how these things are going to dominate the landscape,” said nearby local resident Don Fairbrother.
“The activity is mainly happening on this side of the hills at the moment (Buffalo-Waratah Road) with five of the towers in front of us (his home) but there’ll be others right on top of Bald Hills and as close as 300 metres from Walkerville Road (the main route south from Tarwin Lower).”
As confronting as the turbines themselves are for local residents, they are also very unhappy about the construction project on a number of fronts – extended work hours, illegal quarrying and the late-night arrival of heavy vehicles.
“They’ve been illegally mining for material for their roads, including taking upwards of five metres off the top of one of the hills, and using the materials in construction,” Mr Fairbrother said.
“They are only supposed to be using the material they take out of the actual footings holes.”
Mr Fairbrother has also accused the company, Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd, of sneaky tactics in extending work hours.
“When Matthew Croome addressed the council, only a week and a half ago, he said the company had restricted the working hours to 7am-5pm Monday to Friday and 7am-1pm Saturdays.
“But three days later they sent out a letter to landowners that they were extending the hours, without approval, to 7am-6pm on weekdays and 7am-6pm on Saturdays, effectively another whole day-a-week of construction activity.
“They had to know that was coming up when they spoke to the council.
“The shire might tell you different, but we don’t believe they are allowed to do it without approval.”
The problem for local framers, said Mr Fairbrother, is that they have to move stock between properties and had been avoiding times when construction traffic was accessing the site.
“Now we’ll only have Sunday to move stock which is a major inconvenience when trying to run a business.”
Mr Fairborther also said that with over-sized loads rumbling up the road in the early hours of the morning, they were disturbing his sleep.
“Something I also believe is a problem is having those oversized vehicles on the road, coming through Wonthaggi and the like, at 2am or 3am, possibly when young people are out on the roads, getting home.
“I think it’s a risk.”
But far and away his biggest concern is for number, location and potential noise of the turbines.
“We still maintain that they have 11 non-complying locations and we intend to monitor the performance closely.
“If they are noisy, we expect this will place a lot of pressure on those living nearby.
“I’ve no doubt that property values have already been affected by this, wiping off most of $135,000 in rates the shire expects to receive.
“Even getting $135,000-a-year in rates from a $400 million development is ridiculous but if most of that is lost by reductions to affected farmers, it’s even worse.”
Broken promise won’t help gas
PEOPLE who attend the State Government’s Coal Seam Gas information days, starting this Thursday, June 5 at Warragul, are likely to be told that ‘local jobs’ will be one of the main benefits to flow from hosting an on-land, gas mining project locally.
But those who’ve tried to get jobs on the construction site of Tarwin Lower’s $400 million Bald Hills Wind Farm project will be able to tell them a different story.
Although Bald Hills Pty Ltd promised that “the project will boost the local community by creating local jobs during the construction of the wind farm”, they have been unable to provide clear evidence that this has occurred.
Only six to seven jobs will be on-going, although once again the firm claimed on-going jobs would also boost the local economy.
At the very least, it should give those considering the “benefits” of on-land gas exploration and production projects a reality check.
Locally, the ‘Natural Gas Community Information – Gippsland Open Days’ will be held at:
• Yarram Anglican Church Hall, Thursday, June 12 (2pm-8pm)
• Inverloch Community Hub, Tuesday, June 17 (2pm-8pm)
• Mirboo North Shire Hall, Wednesday, June 18 (2pm-8pm).