CFMEU officials gathered outside the Bald Hills Wind Farm early in 2014 but were subsequently warned against taking unprotected action against the project.
GENERAL Manager of Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd, Matthew Croome, has acknowledged receiving two noise-level complaints from local residents as progressively more of the 52 turbines on the site go into generation mode.
But if comments by other local residents are anything to go by, it could just be the beginning.
At this stage, only 24 of the 52 turbines are generating power and not all of them are on at the same time while they undergo testing.
Mr Croome, who acknowledged this week that there had been two complaints, said it wouldn’t be until June this year that the facility was fully operational.
“We have had two calls relating to noise levels and we will be following up on those,” he said.
Local resident, Don Jelbart, said he had been frankly surprised at the level of noise coming from those turbines that were operating and was concerned what it might be like once the closest turbine to his property started operating.
“You wouldn’t hear the noise over a tractor but it’s louder than I thought it would be,” he said this week.
“It’s different depending on the wind direction. The closest one to us is about 1.5km away and fortunately we’re south from there so it would take a northerly or north-westerly to impact us, which isn’t the prevailing wind, so we’ll see.
“You should go down there yourself and have a listen.”
Mr Croome said there were 24 turbines currently generating power under a testing regime and these would progressively brought into operational mode after two months of testing was complete.
“We expect to have the facility fully operational in June.”
He said background noise testing was completed between the end of construction and the start of turbine operation, to set appropriate ambient noise levels and this information would now be used to measure the impact of turbine noise.
Between eight and 10 people will work at the wind farm site once the facility was fully operational. These staff members have already been appointed and trained ready for the start of normal power generation.
Power generated during the testing phase is already going into the grid, but Mr Croome could not say how much power was being produced.
Blow for CFMEU
In other news, the Federal Court last week found the CFMEU guilty of contempt over a blockade at the wind farm in April last year and fined it $125,000. The Court also ordered indemnity costs against the CFMEU.
Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) filed contempt of court charges against the CFMEU after it breached a court undertaking by blockading the Bald Hills Wind Farm project with cars and barbeque trailers for about eight hours on April 15, 2014.
“There was a coordinated blockade of seven entrances to the compounds at the site. At least eight paid officials (including the Branch Vice President, Mr Derek Christopher) converged on a remote construction site at dawn,” the Court said in its penalty decision last week.
A number of gravel trucks were unable to enter the project. The trucks were expected to deliver about 600 tonnes of bluestone and aggregate that day. Workers were also prevented from entering the project, the court was told.
The Federal Court said “…the CFMEU is to be regarded as a recidivist”. It also said: “The overwhelming inference is that the CFMEU, not for the first time, decided that its wishes should prevail over the interests of the companies and that this end justified the means.”
The Court said the CFMEU “opted for a show of industrial force in preference to engagement in lawful dispute settling procedures.”
“It may reasonably be inferred that the CFMEU well knew the likely consequences of a breach of the undertakings but determined to proceed anyway. In doing so it displayed, at best for it, a cavalier attitude which could only serve to undermine respect for Court processes,” the Court said.
The Court fined the CFMEU $100,000 for contempt for breaching its undertaking to the court to stop blockading activity.
The Court fined the CFMEU a further $25,000 for failing to comply with Court orders to file an affidavit.
“The failure, by the CFMEU, to file the confirming affidavit constitutes a deliberate and flagrant breach of Davies J’s order,” the Court said.
The court decision is the result of months of work by a team of approximately a dozen FWBC personnel, including investigators and lawyers.
There have, however, been reports that some contractors to the project have been left partly unpaid by principle contractors and workers not fully paid their entitlements.
Matthew Croome of BHWF said he was unaware of such claims but would be prepared to hear from anyone who believed they were still out of pocket.