Community’s second wind

Following Tuesday’s Wind Farm Community Consultative Committee, it looks like things are picking up for the Silverton community, with AGL’s Community Enhancement Program making progress. 

The enhancement program is in four parts; the community fund, the solar program, the water tank program, and the mobile reception program.

The community fund will be finalised in the coming months so projects can start. The fund will see $15,000 plus CPI donated to Silverton every year for the life of the wind farm, to go towards projects agreed upon by the community. Some community members were concerned a committee to decide on projects hadn’t been formed yet, however Projects Manager Adam Mackett said applications would be accepted starting in February or March, with a deadline of April. More information about the type of projects accepted and how to apply will be shared with the public in February.

Property inspections for the solar program began on January 15, and while the majority of properties are solar ready, there are still some properties that will need work. 

“We’ll be installing a five kilowatt system on habited residences in Silverton, with installation expected to start in March,” Mr Mackett said.

Quotes for the water tank program have been taken from plumbers and suppliers, however there needs to be a consensus on what a ‘domestic size’ water tank is, with the current thinking about 10,000L.

As was discussed in November’s meeting, there is no state or federal government funding currently available to improve mobile reception in Silverton. Telstra and AGL have come up with a 4GX monopole to cover Silverton, but not the surrounding area.

“We’ve been working with Telstra to come up with a good solution here, we’ve contributed $50,000 towards improving telecommunications but it will cover more the township than the outskirts of Silverton, because we want to make sure we cover the most residents we can,” Mr Mackett said. 

Naomi Schmidt, of Eldee Station, again asked for confirmation that any new towers put in wouldn’t interfere with the network out at Eldee, or with other local’s privately installed networks.

Once a design for the mobile tower has been made and approved, construction is expected to take about four months, although it’s not known when that will start.

Some locals have begun submitting requests for visual impact mitigation – the plantation of greenery around homes to block views of the turbines, however Mr Mackett did say it would be easier to identify those needs once construction was finished.

He also responded to concerns that the vehicles transporting the turbine parts hadn’t been using the stopping bays provided, with one local saying he had to sit behind a convey for about 50 minutes before the truck turned off.

“As part of the Traffic Management Plan we put pullover bays on Silverton Road and we constructed the bypass to try and limit the disruption to the community,” Mr Mackett said.

“With the police escorts we have for traffic there’s always challenges for their time; over the holidays periods they’ll have their own initiatives and tasks they’re focusing on, so we have to work around their availability,” he said.

“What we’re asking people to do is if they ever experience anything they think is unreasonable, to let us know, we do expect there to be delays however if they feel like things aren’t being used adequately we ask people to get in touch with us and we’ll talk with our transporters.”