The article in last week’s Sentinel about a meeting between Matthew Croomes, General Manager of Bald Hills Wind Farm, the South Gippsland Shire Council and residents had no information about possible breaches of permit conditions in the construction of the transmission line or about three important areas addressed at the meeting.
These residents are distressed about the extent of vegetation removal that has already happened along the Walkerville and Bald Hills Roads and the massive amount of trees to be removed along the Tarwin Lower-Inverloch Road.
Matthew Croomes agreed at the meeting to act to minimise the damage to trees and vegetation by:
1. Investigating the feasibility of constructing an underground power-line to minimise vegetation removal,
2. Re-entering into discussions about following the existing route and of locating the power-line on the Blundy property (where the existing power line is located) to avoid works within the vegetated road reserve, and
3. Contacting SPAusnet about vegetation removal requirements adjacent to the Tarwin Lower Cemetery.
At a follow up meeting held on Wednesday, August 27 those present were informed that:
1. Underground power will not be considered,
2. Bald Hills Wind Farm has not been in contact with Blundy’s as they undertook at the meeting to do. BHWF do not intend to put the power poles in the paddock 10 meters to the east, where the existing poles and lines are now. The reason given was time and cost. How can moving the route 10 meters to the east, an action that is without the expense of removing over 200 trees cost more? The poles have to be installed anyway? The cost is the same wherever they are installed. Money would actually be saved by not having to remove trees. Not having to remove trees should decrease, not increase the time involved.
3. BHWF maintains that SPAusnet are permitted to remove all vegetation under the power-lines. (As per new regulations for “new” power-lines resulting from the Fire Royal Commission). If the line stays on the road reserve the trees will go. Over 600 gum trees of all sizes, including some very ancient ones, are to be removed from the Tarwin Lower Inverloch Road. More than 200 gums are going to be chopped down along the road next to the cemetery. All other important vegetation ranging from substantial patches of Sweet Bursaria, Cherry Ballart and Blackwood wattle, to understory shrubs, wildflowers and orchids are under threat because of this poorly conceived transmission line route.
The only way left to prevent this destruction is to put pressure on our politicians to force BHWF to leave the line where it is – in the paddocks.
This would be of benefit to the local community rather than creating a “new” power line aimed at benefiting SPAusnet in their future maintenance and benefiting BHWF in completion of the transmission line on schedule.
Information goes out
This is an edited copy of a communication with others informing them about the imminent removal of a vast number of trees from the cemetery area near Tarwin Lower:
Mutsui (Japan/Australia), the Bald Hills Wind Farm and SPAusnet, with approval from the South Gippsland Shire Council, are about to remove over 600 Eucalyptus trees from a 5km section of the Inverloch Tarwin Road between the Prom turnoff and the Koonwarra turnoff.
The transmission line is taking a “new route” along the roadside reserve near the cemetery, rather than using the existing route on adjacent farmland.
As a “new route” SPAusnet (because of changes arising from the Bushfire Royal Commission) are allowed to remove all vegetation from this section. The “new route is less that 10 meters from the existing power route located on the Blundy farm in cleared paddock.
At a meeting on August 13, between Bald Hills General Manager, Matthew Croome and a group of concerned residents, Mr Croome agreed to look at options that would save the vegetation under threat.
This was done under pressure from the Council and those present. One of the options Mr Croome agreed to was to re-enter into previous negotiations to locate the power-line on the Blundy farming property and so avoid disturbing the vegetated road reserve.
All eucalypts along the transmission line route between the wind farm and Tarwin (along the Walkerville and Bald Hills Roads) have already been cut down. A huge number of various sized gum trees have already gone.
At a meeting, convened at 24hrs notice, on August 27 to outline actions that would save the trees, we were told because of time and cost considerations Bald Hills Wind Farm will not be changing the route.
All eucalypts are to be removed between the cemetery and the substation. There was no detail given of exactly how much cost or time was involved but there was discussion about the cheaper maintenance option is for the lines to be located on a roadside with little or no vegetation. It’s the environment versus time and money.
Our only hope now is for political intervention. Politicians have a variety of reasons for becoming involved in issues ranging from it is the right thing to do, to it will gain me votes. They won’t become involved if the community is not involved and they often only decide to act if the issue attracts media attention.
We need to show how important this environment is to us by acting now. It is a reality that work will begin to remove the trees very soon.
There is a viable alternative that has comparable cost and which involves some extra time – returning the power lines to the existing route on the Blundy farm,) instead of creating a new route through the vegetation along the road.
The community is now engaged in a last ditch effort to save these trees. They are important koala habitat and support a large range of wildlife.
Marion Kavanagh, Venus Bay.