The forecast is for rough seas and storms around Twofold Bay and it’s likely to get rougher.
A growing group of local people are so concerned about the proposed development by EPURON of a mini-wind farm on the South East Fibre Exports (SEFE) site they are ready to makes waves, big waves, to fight it.
Local builder and Kiah resident Neil Rankin is leading the fray.
“I’ve got two words for (wind farm developer) EPURON – get out!” he said.
Mr Rankin is a founding member of Save Twofold Bay, a not-for-profit community organisation based in Eden whose goal is to maintain the integrity of Twofold Bay as “the jewel in the crown of Australia’s Coastal Wilderness”.
Other members include Peter Barber, Ron Doyle, Alan Fraser, Jon Gaul, Rob Bain, Phil Innes, Fritz Michelin, Kari and Tony Esplin and Glen Brunnette.
Their number one issue is to stop development approval of EPURON’s application to Bega Valley Shire Council to build a wind farm on the SEFE site. They are currently preparing to campaign over the peak summer tourist season to achieve that end.
“I’m pretty passionate about it,” Mr Rankin said on Tuesday.
“I just don’t think people are aware of how serious this (the proposed development) is.
“It’s (currently) the most scenic of beauty spots. If built, it will wipe out Fisheries Beach, a tourism drawcard even now but poised to be huge once the Bundian Way opens next year, because of the noise.
“It will dwarf historic Edrom Lodge and Boyd’s Tower and ruin the Light to Light walk.
“These are local landscape icons. Their tourism value will be destroyed when the ‘scarecrows’ go up.”
Another member of the Save Twofold Bay group, Kari Esplin, is also ready to campaign against the proposed wind farm.
“Any profit (these) wind turbines generate will go to big business outside this area,” Mrs Esplin said on Tuesday.
“None of the income earned will remain here. It won’t create any jobs which will cycle money through our local economy.”
Chair of the Sapphire Coast Tourism board Bruce Leaver has already written to council (letter reproduced on page 4) asking them to take into consideration the iconic and economic value that Eden’s pristine environment presents to Tourism Australia’s international brand, Australia’s Coastal Wilderness.
Mr Leaver spoke to the Magnet from a tourism meeting in Sydney on Tuesday to reinforce his concerns.
“Eden is the core of, the best of, the distinctive difference that is Australia’s Coastal Wilderness,” he said.
“On behalf of the board I have made a plea to council to carefully weigh up the best economic long term interests of the region when assessing the wind farm development application.
“The brand (Australia’s Coastal Wilderness) is internationally marketed for its pristine forest and coastal wilderness. This is very rare and disappearing in our customer’s countries. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
“Tourism, like ours, is now leading the economy. We’ve got no other pathway – we’re just asking for them (council) to weigh it up – and take a long term approach about increasing economic worth over a short term solution with possibly a very small construction boost and that’s just about it,” Mr Leaver said.
The Save Twofold Bay group believe that, whilst many local people support clean energy, they are misinformed or unaware about the visual and noise impact that the seven, 135 metre tall wind turbines will have, and the lack of any economic benefit they will deliver locally.
They are preparing a range of materials to illustrate this at community meetings and rallies they propose to hold over the summer months, including the image shown on this page, a representation comparing the size of the wind turbines with Boyds Tower.
“Look at this,” Mr Rankin says, gesturing at the picture.
“It’s just a shocker. It shouldn’t have got this far, and wouldn’t, if proper guidelines, like they have in Victoria, were in place in NSW.”
The Victorian guidelines Mr Rankin makes reference to are amendments (VC78 and VC82) to Victorian Planning Provisions, prohibiting wind energy facilities to be built in locations valued as environmentally valuable and significant tourist destinations. They include the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, Mornington Peninsula, Bellarine Peninsula, Macedon and McHarg Ranges, Bass Coast and the Great Ocean Road region.
In NSW, the situation is less clear.
Premier Barry O’Farrell expressed a personal view on Sydney radio station 2GB back on August 16 that he didn’t want to see any new wind farms approved in New South Wales. At the time he said government planning reforms would ensure community concerns are taken into account when new wind farms are considered as projects.
That position will be well and truly tested in coming months with numerous wind farm proposals going forward for planning approval, including the small one at Eden.
Anyone wishing to support the Save Twofold Bay group can contact Neil Rankin on
6496 1957, 0428 961 957 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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