Email from Surf Beach property owner sent to Stephen Scimonello, Municipal Building Surveyor at Bass Coast Shire Council regarding the construction of an industrial-scale wind turbine at Surf Beach, Phillip Island

Copies of this email were sent to the CEO and all Councillors at Bass Coast Shire Council, to State Government Ministers and also to the Member for Bass

21 September 2020

Case for Use of Emergency Powers under Section 102 of the Safety and Building Act 1993

Dear Stephen,

I am writing this email to appeal to you to exercise your Emergency Powers under Section 102 of the Safety and Building Act 1993 to halt the construction of the industrial-scale wind turbine at 6 Dixon Street, Surf Beach.  As the council enters caretaker mode prior to the council elections, the safety and welfare of the home-owner-community in Dixon Street, Surf Beach and indeed future development of subsequent backyard wind turbines remain entirely dependent on your action to implement your emergency powers.

Legal advice provided to the resident community by PE Law, a Planning and Environment law firm tells us that you indeed have these powers.  We as residents believe there is a clear case for activating the emergency powers based upon:

  1. The erection of a wind turbine which has been variously estimated in height between 10.5 metres and 11.5 metres in a residential backyard is dangerous. 
    1. Residents have received informal engineering advice that the base foundations for the wind turbine are inadequate and there is a very real risk that the structure will fall over in strong wind.
    2. No soil analysis has been conducted.  We as residents know all too well the impact winter rains have on our backyards.  Our backyards are predominantly clay which are reduced to marshy quagmires by the Winter rains and holding stability is dramatically compromised as a result.
    3. Wind shear, flicker, turbine fire and collapse of wind turbines are very real risks especially with the combination of winds, salt and the sand propelled by those winds as commonly occurs at Surf Beach.  One only has to look at the attached video to understand how dangerous this is given that the wind turbine will be located within metres of neighbour’s bedrooms.  Refer to:  These aspects clearly threaten the health and safety of the Dixon Street neighbours.
    4. There is no information on the specifications of this wind turbine.  Neighbours believe that the wind turbine is in fact quite old and second hand.
    5. We have had advice that the rotors of the wind turbine will most likely maim or kill short-tailed shearwaters which would most likely infringe on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and may also infringe the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA) in the United states given that shearwaters migrate between Phillip Island and Alaska.  As many in the council know there is a shearwater colony within 150 metres of the wind turbine site.  This also is against the spirit of the Bass Coast Council Advocacy Strategy which states: “Context:  Our natural environment is our economy. People visit for the environment and stay to join tight knit communities that are passionate about protecting natural assets and growing business opportunities while creating safe and supportive townships in which to raise their families.”
  1. At up to 11.5 metres in height the industrial-scale wing turbine is inappropriate:
    1. This structure will be the tallest single structure in Surf Beach being almost twice as tall as a standard two storey house, and 11/2 times as tall as a power pole.
    2. Noise from the wind turbine is likely to breach EPA standards and in turn cause impacts on neighbour’s health and safety.
    3. It will be a towering eyesore which will very much impact on the natural beauty of Surf Beach which attracts so many tourists each year.
  1. The erection of the wind turbine is unnecessary:
    1. The owner of the property already has 40+ solar panels which should provide ample power for what is thought to be a holiday property.
    2. A battery would appear to be a better alternative which will cause minimal nuisance to neighbours while capturing sustainably generated energy for use at night.
    3. We are aware of at least an additional resident of Phillip Island who has said that they would like to erect a wind turbine if this one goes ahead – imagine the damage to health, safety and the environment of the island then.

Stephen, you have the power to do this and stop the construction of the wind turbine now.  We believe, this would be a much better option for both the council and the owner of 6 Dixon Street who may have to take the turbine down and incur further unnecessary expense anyway.  One of the very important roles of the council and your position in particular is to protect the health and safety of the Bass Coast Council residents.  We appeal to you to do this now in order to act upon this responsibility.

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