By Spectator-Observer Partnership-4th Sep 2006
Originally written by Bill Meldrum
Cape Bridgewater residents are gearing up for a campaign against Pacific Hydro’s proposed powerline route for the second stage of the Portland Wind Energy Project.
It follows the leaking and circulation of terse correspondence made last year by Pacific Hydro project co-ordinator Danny Halstead in failed negotiations with F.Fairthorne & Son Pty Ltd company secretary Richard Synnot to put powerlines across part of the Fairthorne property.
Several residents believe Pacific Hydro has failed to consult the broader community on the new proposed route in what they say is a sensitive environmental skyline, following the failed negotiations with the Fairthornes.
They are also outraged at what they describe as intimidatory and threatening language used by Pacific Hydro in negotiations with the Fairthornes.
In the email dated June 17 last year to Mr Synnot on easement options, Mr Halstead, in part, said:
“Before responding to these matters, I would like to advise that we do not want a repeat performance of negotiations like the last time when we were seeking to put wind generators on the Fairthorne property.
“Each party will take care of their own legal costs and we will not tolerate any delays in concluding this agreement.
“Put simply, if we can not reach agreement by the 01 July 2005, then we will abandon this proposed route and use the road reserve between the Cape House property and Scott Blacksell’s property and then use the road reserve that is currently being used as an entrance into the Cape House.”
Mr Halstead also said that Pacific Hydro had offered $10,000 as compensation to the Fairthorn company, saying “this is the going rate for other easements and this amount is non-negotiable”.
In his response to Mr Halstead’s email, Mr Synnot on August 9 said in part:
“…I did not respond to that email because, as we could not meet your unrealistic deadline of 1 July 2005, I assumed that you would ride roughshod over us and put the powerline route in the road reserve in front of the Cape House.
“I also objected to the arrogant and threatening tone of that email with your use of such expressions as ‘we will not tolerate’, ‘this amount is non-negotiable’ and ‘Pacific Hydro will not entertain’, if you want me to consider and reply to your correspondence in the future do not write to me in such a rude and patronising manner.”
Mr Synnot confirmed on Friday the company had considered a fair and reasonable amount of compensation would have been at least $50,000, a figure rejected by Pacific Hydro.
“We got back to Pacific Hydro and accepted the $10,000 but they then reduced the compensation figure further and the negotiations ended,” he said. “They came to us in the first instance”.
However, Mr Halstead’s actions were supported on Friday by Pacific Hydro corporate affairs manager Andrew Richards.
Mr Richards said it eventually reached the stage when Pacific Hydro had to make a decision.
“You’ve just got to put your position and that position puts people offside,” he said.
Mr Richards also rejected claims the community had not been consulted on the proposed powerline route after the Fairthorne discussions failed.
“It has been on display in the Glenelg Shire Council’s foyer for several months and Danny (Halstead) is always talking to people down there,” he said.
In a further development, Pacific Hydro is set to face further delays on the project after it made an application to the council for a permit to clear native vegetation along the proposed powerline route.
The application is set to be advertised by the council for public comment in the near future.
It is believed residents are set to object to the application and to voice their strong oppositions to the proposed powerline route.
It is also understood the Department of Sustainability and Environment may also lodge concerns about the route, with the amount of vegetation to be cleared coming under close scrutiny.
DeFrock ~ Danny Halstead was CEO of Glenelg Shire Council (GSC) South West Victoria, until 1999, prior to employment with Pacific Hydro as their Project Co-Ordinator and Site Manager.
Co-incidentally, 1999 also marks GSC adopting a ‘Can Do’ attitude and the ‘modelling‘ and streamlining of wind farm development through it’s planning scheme amendment.