By Michael Giles
THE usually tranquil Phillip Island suburb of Surf Beach was in uproar last wekek after a large crane was called in, for what some thought was to erect a 10.5 metre-high wind turbine in the backyard of a local residential property.
In the end though, the crane was used to lift two large Canary Island Palms into place, the turbine… well, it remained poised for its final lift to full height.
Claims the Bass Coast Shire Council knew about the proposed turbine some years ago were scotched by shire CEO Ali Wastie on Gippsland ABC Radio last Friday, March 6, claiming there was nothing the shire could do, under its present planning scheme, or the state planning scheme to stop the turbine from going up.
“I don’t think we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes,” Ms Wastie said in answer to criticism by neighbouring home owner Ian Juster, but she acknowledged and understood the frustration of local residents.
“This is a really unfortunate situation where we cannot do anything because we have no powers to act in this case.
“The only body that has any authority to intervene and support and address the community’s concerns is the state government through an amendment to the planning scheme.”
Another local Surf Beach homeowner Ray Carson agrees it’s a state-wide problem but rejects the idea that Bass Coast was powerless to do anything about it.
“It should be pointed out that Bass Council has been negligent because they could pass a resolution to stop it like other councils have such as Port Phillip Council in Melbourne. That is why you don’t see turbines in residential areas of Melbourne,” Mr Carson said today.
Surf Beach resident Ian Juster also spoke on ABC Radio on Friday about the erection of the turbine, saying many local residents felt the way he did.
“I think myself, like most of the residents in Surf Beach that have been involved in the protest, I’ve been very frustrated that the turbine has finally been constructed. You’ve seen the photos, I mean it needs a sky crane to bring it in and put it up,” Mr Juster said.
It’s a structure that’s just under 11 meters high so that it doesn’t trigger a planning permit.
“I think that myself and others are just incredibly frustrated that whilst no planning permit is required so it’s just a real shame because it’s a completely inappropriate structure for a residential backyard.”
Mr Juster outlined his objections.
“I don’t think the visual aspect of it, to be honest, is the main issue. Because it hasn’t triggered a planning permit, nobody knows exactly what’s been constructed. We understand the hole that’s been put in the ground to concrete this turbine in is some four metres deep.
“As I said, it’s just under 11 metres highs with a large sort of generator at the top. The span of the propellers or the veins on the turbine look to be some four metres in diameter. And this is, you know, three or four meters from someone’s bedroom window. It’s probably only 10 or 15 metres from my front bedroom window.
“This is a safety issue, it’s a noise issue, it’s a light flickering issue. How the turbine looks is probably secondary.”