Re Liberal leader Matthew Guy’s visit to Warrnambool this week. The Liberals have established the value of a vote for four more years of representation from Roma Britnell. $610k for a worthy cause and a new Great Ocean Authority. Combined, the outlay will be roughly the equivalent of three blocks of urban road resurfacing. What a Guy.
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool
Lookout centre support
Re Opposition to centre and the fund raising efforts for the proposed Lookout residential rehabilitation centre – letters The Standard, July 28. Have we never heard of the old saying “there but for the grace of God Go I”. I always thought Warrnambool was a caring and tolerant place. Maybe we will just push this problem under the carpet and pretend it doesn’t exist. Hopefully not.
Carmel Hughes, Warrnambool
Wind energy concerns
There is much to be concerned about with wind energy facility development in the south-west region of Victoria and the construction of the transmission lines for grid connection integral to the multiple projects established, approved or proposed. Developers are targeting a swathe of rural landscapes from near Geelong through to Mortlake (a “hot Spot” according to a DWELP representative), on to north of Warrnambool, wrapping around Koroit/Port Fairy and beyond. Do you know DWELP requires no permit for wind energy facility developers to construct transmission lines and have no reglulation and no guidelines around such constructions? Do you know transmission lines can be built with free rein; that any type of tower/pole can be constructed of any size with as many cables strung as desired on whatever route, over any distance the developer decides upon with no intervention or liaison from DWELP? Do you know there is no requirement for developers to engage with property owners in the pathway of the transmission line construction route and that no consultation is required with property owners on placement of transmission line towers in relation to their homes or properties? Do you know that developers which are often foreign-owned multi-nationals accessing subsidies from the government, are allowed to use our public road reserves for transmission line towers with no guidelines or regulation from DWELP or any other authority as to suitability of roads used, setback from roadside reserve, or road safety. Do you know the State Government has taken control of wind energy development in Victoria and councils have only an opportunity for comment on the developments and no leverage to advocate on behalf of their ratepayers? A recent meeting with representatives from DWELP suggested nothing is to be done prior to the state election, thus allowing current transmission line proposals to go ahead unregulated; with no consideration for cumulative effect/duplication of multiple proposals or application of social license for the constituents of this region. Where is the wisdom, foresight and social justice at DWELP? There is a gaping absence of planning protocol from DWELP. Nothing is minor about the scale of impact of these transmission lines and developments, visually, physically and socially on our communities and on the rural landscape.
Geraldine Conheady, Tyna Murray, William Moloney, Jennifer Jackson, Lisa Allen, Noorat
Protect small towns
The main aim of the government’s affordable housing policy is to relieve the problem of homelessness. Yet the government is prepared to risk the viability of the small town of Hawkesdale, where affordable housing is in abundance, by approving a wind farm just 1 km from the town. The plan is to install a wind farm consisting of 28 turbines. These turbines, with flashing red lights for aviation purposes, are 180 metres tall, three times the height of the West Gate bridge and can be heard as far five kilometres away. I am in favour of the Victorian Government’s renewable energy policies including the development of wind farms but more consideration needs to be given to siting them away from small towns. The town of Hawkesdale has a population of 432 people. 116 of these are families with an average of two children each. There are 165 houses, approximately 20 per cent are rental properties. Hawkesdale offers affordable housing and rentals, for those who are finding it too expensive to live in regional towns such as Warrnambool. Surely Hawkesdale is a good example of what the government is referring to when it talks about affordable housing. Hawkesdale has many services to offer to its community. It has a highly regarded P12 school with 215 students drawn from a wide catchment. There is a childcare centre, kindergarten and maternal health service for young mothers. Other services include a post office, hotel, farm merchandise store, swimming pool and sporting clubs. Evidence gathered from Macarthur, Cape Bridgewater and many overseas wind farms, indicates that a minimum of 10-20 per cent of the population may be affected by the low frequency noise transmitted by wind turbines located within 3 kms of their homes. Moyne Shire has had many complaints from people who live near Macarthur wind farm. Residents have complained of sleep disruption, headaches, ear and head pressure, dizziness and depression. At a meeting held recently in Hawkesdale attended by approximately 140 people, many voiced their concern about placing a wind farm so close to Hawkesdale. At the panel meeting to approve the increase in the height of the turbines a report on the socio- economic impact of the wind farm on the people of Hawkesdale, was not presented even though it was a requirement. It appears the health and welfare of the residents are of little significance. With affordable housing in such short supply and rental prices at an all time high what will happen to Hawkesdale residents (some having lived in Hawkesdale all their lives) if they are forced by ill health to leave the area? When Hawkesdale no longer attracts people who want to live cheaply in peaceful surrounds, people will be unable to sell their houses for a reasonable price, how then will those who are forced to leave survive the trauma of trying to relocate if they have lost the equity in their only asset? To quote one very distressed person at the recent meeting “what am I supposed to do?”
Margaret McCosh, Hawkesdale
Protect species at all costs
From climate change to saving the Hooded Plover, we are in a short period of time where humans have a critical control over protecting or destroying biodiversity at a scale never before seen on our planet.
Within a generation or two we will likely send many thousands of species to extinction because of our short sightedness. This is happening in local areas across the planet.
As Warrnambool locals who care about our local environment we inevitably run up against other locals who don't care or, more usually, don't know what's at stake.
There is a role to play to help our community understand the losses just around the corner. Locally, an example is Lady Bay. Lady Bay has no beach nesting birds and almost no beach feeding birds for one reason only: humans have taken all the beach from them.
The beaches of Belfast Coastal Reserve are different and special. Including Levy's Beach which is in Warrnambool City Council's area. These beaches and dunes are many more times biodiverse than Lady Bay. They are in fact the keeper, the bank of beach biodiversity in the City of Warrnambool.
But this biodiversity can be destroyed easily, just as it was done in the past on Lady Bay. 150 racehorses every day of the year at Levy's, condoned by our Council and the State Government, will drive wildlife away, kill it, destroy it's feeding grounds and nesting places. History does not lie about the impacts of this.
Governments are short lived, often short sighted and often captive to short term economic interests. This makes them very poor stewards of our natural environment because the environment is often less valued than every other factor. The environment is just something to be used up.
But we, humans, are in fact just part of the natural environment. We are just another animal trying to make our mark, trying to survive, just like every living thing that ever was. Our exception is that we have evolved to the point where we are in the unique position where we have the power to send other species to oblivion. Or to protect them.
I would protect them for the future. Forever.
Bruce Campbell, chairman, Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare Network