By Michael Giles
THE South Gippsland Shire Council’s bureaucracy doesn’t like the fact that they’ve been appointed as the responsible authority to ensure compliance standards at Walkerville’s $1.2 billion wind farm.
The shire CEO Tim Tamlin says as much in a leaked email to councillors, issued shortly before going on Christmas leave.
According to the email, the shire has met with Ministerial staff to discuss conflicting legislation between the planning and health acts with regards to managing complaints about windfarms.
And they intend to take the matter up with the MAV.
Changes on-the-run to the size and siting of some of the 131 metre high turbines to locations closer to people’s houses and other issues associated with the Walkerville wind farm have not made the shire’s job easy.
We get that.
But the shire is collecting up towards $200,000 in rates annually from the owners of the facility, so they do have the funds to get on, in a timely manner, and make a decent response to the local residents’ concerns.
The operative word here is decency.
The people making the complaints are good, local, law-abiding folk who have been the victim of circumstance here. They’ve paid their rates and in most cases contributed strongly to their communities.
They deserve better than this.
They feel strongly that, at certain times, and in certain conditions, the noise emanating from these huge, industrial, energy-generating structures is intolerable, especially when they are trying to sleep at night.
And the shire officers appointed to the task of testing noise levels, failed to work with the local residents in trying to test the noise levels at these critical times.
The shire stuffed up, they’ve admitted it and there have been delays in finding a suitable expert to undertake the work. But the fact remains that the shire has had 22 months to properly deal with this matter, and so far they’ve failed miserably.
Opponents of the shire say the action is typical of their unhelpful attitude to their own residents and symptomatic of delays, wastage and failures in other areas.
It’s not a good look. Should heads roll?
That’s the burning question and for the moment, the jury is out.