Magnetic Island North Queensland
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April 12th 2010
Solar Park critic urges Islanders to attend Wednesday meeting

Following is a letter from Island resident Mike Schmidt urging people to attend the Magnetic Island Solar Park meeting.


There is a public notice about the Magnetic Island Solar Park having a Community Meeting at 7.30pm on Wednesday the 14th of April at the Centre. I implore everyone to attend because, from what I understand, this will be your last chance to have a say. I would like to put some reminders of why I feel that this project should not go ahead on “OUR SPORTS GROUNDS”

(1) This Solar project is a full blown Industrial/commercial money making scheme. Ergon will sell the power generated from the project thru your home meters for a minimum of twenty five years.

(2) This industrial farm should not be allowed to be built on our Sports fields and/or allocated Green Space.

(3) I assume TCC will have to be “renting/leasing” these grounds to the project. They already rent/lease out the sports club building, Telstra/Optus Tower grounds and Rural Fire Brigade area.

(4) This Industrial Project will have dangerous voltages generated in itself and by WPH& Safety Standards alone will have to have protection to the General Public installed. Fences come to mind and/or constructed at elevations where no one can access them. Although lower, the D.C. voltages that would be generated have a far higher potential to burn their victim than what A.C voltages have.

(5) This property was developed by the island people for the island people and visitors for their sport and rec, then, now and for the future – not for industrial purposes.

(6) If we are not allowed to have play swings etc under the shade trees then how is it that we can have concentrated play under an industrial suspension of panels?

(7) The Club House will be lost for ever to the project.

(8) The planned structure of 45kw was going to cost $150,000.00. What is the costing to this present project where it is now in the order of ten times more complex? Whatever the cost it makes the thousands that it might cost for a cooler, environmental, aesthetically appealing shade cloth/sail for the skate park look like a sneeze in the storm.

(9) On that note everybody should realize that the project is to provide at its best 100kw compared to 5500kw average island consumption at present. Sneeze in a storm?

(10) Also for everybody to realize is that the submarine cables that presently come over are rated for 22,000 volts if not 33,000 volts and that we are running on the conservative 11,000 volts. This means that we are NOT looking to replace cables at any time in the future.

(11) I think that it is an insult on everyone’s intelligence that the project can be mooted a tourist attraction.

(12) Residents are already being scared off from using their grounds in varying degrees by way of the radiation fear from the Telstra/Optus Tower and the treated sewage water greening the grounds; what more – Ergon maintenance trucks and Rural Fire Trucks let alone the thief in the night.

(13) I also see a TRADE EXPO planned – Is that our sport and rec being turned into a commercial advertising venue for Ergon to sell more solar systems?

Summary: The planned hotch-potch of structures – skate park shade, bus terminal, them and our shades, stage shade, BBQ shades, a building to house the electrics etc, etc, does not add up to anything real for the community for the costs involved, rather it is so obviously a land grab for Industrial purposes and well being for the commercial sector. This project cost projection; if it comes in under a million dollars, then good; but what is the cost of skate park sails in comparison? I am glad that I am not the one putting my hand in the air to explain the costs for the benefit. I am also reminded that the shades are not full shades and are not weatherproof. I fear that the visual amenity of Magnetic Island’s sports grounds is going to be destroyed by the front gate monstrosities. I still firmly believe that this farm is welcome to be constructed elsewhere on the island where it is more appropriate and at far, far less cost.

Yours Sincerely,
Michael Schmidt.

Given the nature of Mike's comments it seemed appropriate that the Solar Cities team be given an opportunity to respond. Below is a brief comment from Solar Cities Community Engagement Manager, Julie Heath.

"The Solar City team is prepared to fund a Solar Park that is acceptable to the community and achieves the aim of generating renewable electricity from the sun on Magnetic Island for all to use. We believe the current proposal for a cover to the Skate Park and adjacent areas is a great solution and we welcome your feedback on the new plans. Please come along to the public meeting on 14th April at 7:30 at the Smart Lifestyle Centre where issues already raised can be clarified, and any further questions can be answered. Our proposed Solar Park and Skate Park cover needs your support before it will proceed."

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Solar Park critic urges Islanders to attend Wednesday meeting
Jenny Stirling
April 11th 2010
Surely the point of solar power is that it helps communities be sustainable. And just because solar power is desirable as a means to an end, that does not mean that of itself it has the values that bring life and good sense to the table. Solar power is a tool- that's all. How this community integrates the solar park into its strucuture is a conversation that needs to be had within the whole community- with ALL the issues, values and facts on the table. I encourage everyone to go to the meeting so as to become informed and to discuss civilly and respectfully the options and choices that need to be made.
April 13th 2010
Whilst I'm prepared to argue the case for and against certain aspects of this proposal - in an appropriate forum - some of the issues raised in this letter go a fair way beyond the pale.
Take Point No.10. I know there are a few people in the world who feel threatened by the possibility that drinking town water will split their genes (if not their jeans) and that once the town water has been through the sewerage system then the water recycling plant and then sprayed around on the oval, the grass might glow in the night and it might be unsafe to go within cooee of the place. I know such people might be out there but they certainly don't broadcast the fact that they have been keeping their children indoors all this time. So rather than inventing or speculating (or threatening) that such people might exist and might hold such views, why not allow them to communicate confidentially with the Council and Ergon or else let them turn up at the forum and make this explicit point themselves?
rebecca smith
April 13th 2010
Fancy that? Ergon taking over the sports field! Not being a sporty type, I recall the Bays of Origin and AFL matches that enhanced community cohesion, the fortnightly film nights and other events held at the community centre. They were popular, and they were fun. Sports bore me stupid, but my sentiments are a minority in Australia, and sports fields can be used for so many social uses along with kicking balls around. Much as I like the idea of solar cities, I am fairly appalled that at what does appear to be a commercial land grab in the guise of 'sustainability'. Sustainability is not going to happen on MI with the current proliferation of massive, unnecessary four wheel drives for starters. 'Sustainability' has a social element too, and I can't envisage where another sports field/island amenity would fit.
Good on you Mike. As a 'townie' now, I won't be able to make it, but I'm on your side on this one.
April 13th 2010
hey Rebecca shade for skaters is excelent. if they want to spend $ to cover the skate park with solar sheets then let them. the lands not grabbed but shaded and going to be much cooler so I'd call it a gift and say thanks very much!
April 13th 2010
Hey, Rebecca. Ergon is not taking over the sports fields, or any other green space at the Rec Club. They were invited by the Council (which owns the 18 acres) to bring the HQ for their Solar Cities project into the (vacated, remember?) derelict Sports and Rec Club house - which, yes it's true, was built by the volunteer labour of numerous Island locals in the years up to 1980 when it was finally opened, followed by about 25 more years of the same and other locals building extensions and extras, doing their thing and sometimes even running the show. Then that stopped and the place was deserted, by everyone. Well, everyone except Council which has now spent another fortune bringing recycled water to the place and creating the best sports fields and tree blocks the club has ever had. You might have missed that part?
Now Ergon has spent about half a million (local tradies, local labour) doing the place up and making the building actually functional again. As I understand it, in a couple of years time, the Solar Cities installation and promotion campaign will end (although the installed infrastructure will remain) and the Council will be in a position to decide on the future use of the Clubhouse.
Meanwhile, a short distance from the clubhouse is the skate park - remember, that's where the outdoor 'drive-in movies' used to be - back in the good old days, or something, before Horseshoe Bay got Town water. I think this latest proposal is to install a shade roof over the top of the skate park - again taking up no new green or ground space. I wish you could identify which exact piece of land you think is the subject of this so-called "commercial land grab" - or were you thinking that Ergon is now in control of the whole 18 acres?
Perhaps someone at the meeting can find out?
Mike Schmidt
April 14th 2010
It really doesn't matter that you have a different opinion to others but to openly display yourself and your somewhat literary talent to act as a hyena and pounce on what others say isn't conducive to talent.
On another note Charlie, have you heard the rumour that the are escapees up here from the South after selling their Grandmothers.
Jonathan Volkwein
November 16th 2011
Hello - I read this article as I was checking out this great site, it really is great to see a quality community paper that represents such a lovely island with a many varied subjects. I had just visted MI last week & drove past the skate park in question, I'm from Sydney & it was an impressive site that I completly didnt expect! It certianly did a good job of covering the skate park in the full light of the day. I want to finish off by showing you an an alternative to solar that most aussies are not aware of. Australian based inventor that uses gravity to produce MW levels of power with a very small footprint. A coal fire power station engineer has really produced an amazing yet brilliantly simple means to produce power. I hope this gets thu to the residnets of MI(also affectionaly aka Magneto's) of that great sunny isle. This is the most enviromentally sustainable means to produce power that I have found & am very hopeful that you find this well.

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