Preliminary earthworks for the Cape Bridgewater section of Pacific Hydro’s Portland Wind Energy Project have started.
Portland-based building and concreting firm G.R. Carr Pty Ltd has started preparing a site at Amos Rd for a batch plant and crib area as a base to install 29 wind turbine foundations for the project. Pacific Hydro’s management team was elated earlier this week as the work was now a clear indication to the community the project was coming to fruition after it had appeared for several years to be at a standstill. It also followed a clear commitment made by Pacific Hydro during the recent State election campaign that work on the project would start immediately after the election if the Bracks Government was re-elected because of its commitment to the Victorian Renewable Energy Target. Site manager and G.R. Carr director David Carr was elated in winning the project valued at about $7 million. Mr Carr said that, as a direct result of wind energy, an extra 35 jobs would be provided to local people. “This work requires excavations, formwork, steel fixers, electrical, cranage and concrete to install the 29 turbines,” he said. An estimated 28 tonnes of reinforced concrete, or around 400 cubic metres of concrete, is needed for the project. Mr Carr said local subcontractors would be employed for the project, expected to take between six and seven months to complete. “This is definitely the largest single job we have been involved with,” he said. Meanwhile, in a further development, the Glenelg Shire Council has reaffirmed its support for the project when it rejected a call by the Portland Tourist Association for support to stop the Cape Bridgewater section of the wind farm. Shire chief executive officer Jennifer Tod’s written report to the council said the PTA had made several allegations regarding the Cape Bridgewater project. They included, in part:
# The State Government was allowing Pacific Hydro to import blades for the Cape Bridgewater wind farm Ã‘ the PTA believed the importing of blades contravened the intention of the community’s willingness to have wind farms on on the coast.
# The State Government and/or the council, were allowing the Cape Bridgewater wind farm to proceed in preference to the Pt Danger and Cape Grant wind farms.
# Pacific Hydro had not consulted with the community regarding alterations to the number and size of towers on Cape Bridgewater. PTA president Pam Bourke had written to the council, saying the association had withdrawn its support for the Cape Bridgewater wind farm. However, Cr Geoff White told the council he would be interested to know at what meeting did the PTA make its decision. “I don’t think there was a meeting,” he said. Cr White’s sentiments echoed those made by Pacific Hydro management late last month when Ms Bourke was accused of making a unilateral decision and issued with a “please explain” by the company. The company said it had found the timing of Ms Bourke’s letter interesting given it came after Pacific Hydro which is a member of the PTA, was a major sponsor of the Portland Bay Festival held late October-early November. In a surprise move, Cr Karen Stephens voted against the officer recommendation of council’s continued support for the PWEP. Cr Stephens was the only councillor to vote against the recommendation and was an about face on previous statements she had made in support of the project.
# Pacific Hydro’s application to remove native vegetation on roadsides for its powerline route from Cape Bridgewater to the outskirts of Portland remains with the council. The council is understood to be waiting on further details from referral authorities before making a decision.
By Bill Meldrum