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Landholders worry about what legacy the Bald Hills wind farm will leave  

Credit:  By Jenni Henderson | ABC Gippsland | 27 June 2014 | www.abc.net.au ~~

Rob Liley owns 470 hectares of land in Tarwin Lower right near the 52 turbine wind farm, currently being constructed.

He runs cattle and sheep on his property and has lived in the area for over 60 years.

“It’s a fabulous place to live here, we’re spoilt rotten. It is a beautiful place,” Mr Liley says.

He has noticed some changes over the past few month, as heavily laden trucks bring materials to the wind farm.

He’s seen the asphalt along the Walkerville Road, where he lives, buckling and ripping up.

Mud filled potholes increasingly dot the unsealed roads in the area.

There is also a police presence around the site of the wind farm lately, something he says he hasn’t seen in the area for 40 years.

“[The wind farm] has certainly changed the area completely from the area we came to.

“It is not going to make one jot of difference to my attitude to living here but it certainly is to my attitude to big projects in this area,” Mr Liley says.

He and other residents are worried about what state the area will be left in after the wind farm project has run its course.

Many residents have already made complaints to South Gippsland Shire Council about the state of the roads and those driving too and from the wind farm.

Mr Liley says he’s seen a truck driver speeding more than 100km per hour along the Walkerville Road.

“Somebody is going to get killed. These are huge heavy vehicles that are going very quickly,” he says.

In a statement to the ABC, operator of the Bald Hills wind farm, Mitsui said traffic advisory signs have been installed along roads to reduce speeds and other road users have been warned about the traffic.

It also says the company has widened sections of Buffalo Waratah Road which leads to the entrance to the wind farm, trimmed vegetation to improve visibility and is monitoring the conditions of the road.

“We are very committed to safe driving and reinforce driver safety and driver courtesy messages at daily and weekly meetings with staff and contractors. Any complaint we receive is investigated and we take disciplinary action against any driver found to have been driving in a manner which is unsafe. This disciplinary action can include the driver being banned from the project.”

Another landholder in the area and vocal opponent to the wind farm, Don Fairbrother, says his wife Dorothy has had a few close calls with trucks travelling to the wind farm.

He lives along the unsealed Buffalo Waratah Road and says South Gippsland Shire Council has been responding to calls from residents to repair parts of the road but it has been left it in a patchy state.

“They’re going to leave us an obstacle course. When they walk away from this project when it’s finished, we’re going to have roads that used to be good that are now second class,” he says.

In a traffic management plan for the project, it was recommended that the section of the Buffalo Waratah Road leading to the entrance of the wind farm be sealed and widened.

South Gippsland Shire says the road has been widened and that council is satisfied with the maintenance of the road.

Mitsui notified locals in the area of the transportation of large components of the project to the wind farm between two and six in the morning, so as to not disrupt traffic.

The company also extended hours of operation at the wind farm until six o’clock on weekdays and from one till six in the evening on a Saturday.

South Gippsland Shire Council says it considering its position on the extension of working hours.

In the meantime, Mr Fairbrother says landholders in the area are finding it difficult to sleep due to traffic noise and can only move stock along roads around the wind farm on a Sunday.

Source:  By Jenni Henderson | ABC Gippsland | 27 June 2014 | www.abc.net.au

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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