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Peter Barber's Letter to the Editor

Wind Farm Disaster



What net benefits would the Eden community get in return for the ruin of our prime Twofold Bay asset? - Zero! The developer of a wind farm at the chipmill site would get taxpayer-funded government subsidies, but we would get a modest amount of local employment and expenditure during a 12 month construction period followed by decades of economic loss.


I acted professionally for South Gippsland Shire Council regarding a 12 turbine wind farm at Toora. The community was bitterly divided. A Bonlac factory in town had closed and some people hoped that the wind farm would bring jobs and cheap electricity. Others objected to things like effect on the landscape. The wind farm was completed in 2002 using outside specialists and the turbine components were imported. Some local labourers and concrete, earthmoving etc firms got a bit of work for about 12 months, then nothing. Minimal maintenance is by visiting engineers. No cheap power.


Last week a member of the Toora area Chamber of Commerce said "there is not any employment of locals really" and an experienced local estate agent said "There is no doubt that wind farms affect land values. Prospective buyers have said that they don't want to buy properties with a view of wind towers".


Twofold Bay is our greatest drawcard. Tourists are attracted by its unspoilt beauty and bush backdrop. Standard wind turbines are 150 meters high (just under 500 feet) from base to top of blade arc. They are very light in colour and they rotate constantly. They would dwarf current chipmill structures (which are muted in colour) and would rise way above the treeline. However elegant they may appear to some, wind turbines would create a discordant industrial aspect that would certainly put an end to "unspoilt". Views from places like the Rotary Park lookout would be dominated by the wind farm and 19.5 m Boyd's Tower would be overwhelmed. Views across the bay from places like Cocora Beach would be dramatically altered.


Local tourism is growing at a record rate. It does much to support the economy of Eden, which is suffering. We cannot risk any erosion of the attractiveness of Twofold Bay. Ongoing revenue and long term employment opportunities are at stake. We need to convince Council and the new State Government of our problem. If we fail, we may, like many people at Toora, live to regret it.


Peter Barber