December 4th 2009
Letter: Solar park a "worthless white elephant"
With public interest in mind, Magnetic Times has decided to publish a copy of a letter sent recently to The Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines, Energy and Trade, Stephen Robertson, by Island resident Mr Michael Schmidt who has some strong criticisms to make about the proposed Solar Park at Horseshoe Bay. It is important to disclose that your editor is one of the three community members on the working group and an attendee to all of the meetings so far and that I see the project in a far more positive light. But, because this is an important matter we have, for the record, reproduced Mike Schmidt's letter in full in the public interest.
Sadly, the Solar program on the Sport Reserve has gone from the ground to the air with unsightly and monstrous constructions being planned.
I need to understand how the TCC & Ergon Solar team can push so hard to keep this location at the Magnetic Island Sports & Recreation Reserve when it was already told (100%) at the first meeting to find another site. It was mooted that they MIGHT be able to stay if they were to perhaps provide shade over activity areas . We have now seen what is envisaged in the provision of shade, where $150,000.00, 20 Tonne (Ergon described) jungle of steel to support 45kw of panels of the 100 kw Farm to shade the skate park and it is not conducive to the Magnetic Island or Sports Reserve aesthetic and surrounding natural environment, let alone the further 55 kw required, made up from a scattering of steel and glass structures about the near building property. Tourist nightmare!
To me, this whole process is nonsense.
There is no architecturally acceptable design for the elevated 20 Tonne of “Jungle Jim” steel for just 45kw that is economically viable and the visionary concept put forward last night gave only partial shade. ALSO, the morning and afternoon sun will shine directly under the shade over the park given the height of the shade. “Not far from Worthless”.
Where/how and to what value will the other partial shade from the further mooted 55kw farm be placed? An even larger “Jungle Jim” of steel?
This project is a highly valued & FULLY COMMERCIAL ENTITY or at the very least – will be.
This is a commercial entity planned on a Sporting Reserve.
This is a commercial entity planned on TCC reserved Green Space.
It now appears Solar City Program have full intent in keeping the Community building as an “Interpretive Centre” for the life of the Solar Farm, either by Ergon or TCC.(20years min)
These pieces of “Solar” property would have to be excised from the main Green Space and Sport reserve. There were at least 6 or 7 individual sites proposed which then brings in another legal Identity wrangle that power generated from one site cannot enter another or pass thru another without due considerations and Safety Standards of Aust & NZ (Electrical Standards of Aust.& NZ.).
There is no FULL panel shade planned. Construction is dictating that there be a couple of panels and then a space (panel size) for sunshine???? So what is the point of this for SHADE?
I wonder that the property that this project envelopes would then have to have it’s own Public Liability policy to protect against kids ( & others) banging into support poles and from things falling from height.
It is trying to be mooted as a Tourist Identity – it is not. When would anyone come to see panels in the air on a Jungle of steel poles?
It is mooted as “showpiece” – showpiece for what – Outdated technology – that’s reality out the window.
It was earlier mooted for shade for car parking – it was never – at least not the quantity the reader might be inspired to think.
Entry or access corridors to inside the property to maintain the Solar equipment in amongst the Sport Reserve will have to be controlled so as not to have commercial maintenance being done during events or community recreation. Ergon should not have open access to this “Farm” on the Sports Reserve.
The visual amenity of Magnetic Island, the Sports Reserve and their lush grounds will be destroyed by the placement of these mechanical structures supporting this outdated technology, resulting in a damper affect on the people to partake in the Parks & Health Programs. It also detracts from the age old reasoning for having parks in communities in the first place and here we have a full blown Commercial Solar Power Farm consuming a good portion of our very limited park resources on Magnetic Island.
It was revealed at last nights meeting that the power from shade construction solar panels out from the main building and on the grounds would be put through the building systems (separate from the 45kw plant) thereby linking the building to the Solar Farm forever and making a mockery of what has been stated in all meetings by the Solar Management as the project needing to have “100kw from one source” – “one hub” because of technical detail. Just how much are we being consistently being lied to or at the very least misguided?
Ergon are insisting all the way through that TCC are saying that the building would be vacated and returned to the community when Ergon’s Solar City project is completed – estimated to be a 2 year project.. When asked (again & again) would the building be stripped of Solar Cities offices etc, and then be made available back to the community, no answer was given, total avoidance, indicating TCC would keep it as an Interpretive Centre.
I am asking your office to stand up and say enough is enough and halt this community infraction before it is too late and issue a directive for the Solar City project to move to a “commercial” location of which there is an abundance of suitable sites already pointed out to the Solar Team, in particular, “Further down the transmission line” to the “Waste Water Facility” vacant land, as supposedly needed.
It is now abundantly clear that Solar Cities Program not only want to claim the property grounds in part but also the community building for at least twenty years. Their purpose, it would appear, is more ‘to justify the existence of the Solar City Project, and if that is the case, then it should be done on commercial or other TCC held land that is NOT Green Space and NOT designated Sports and Recreation Reserve which has been developed, including the building, by the local community members over many years.
If you confer with the Solar Team Management you will find that they have 3 community members to represent the interests of the Magnetic Island people to which I refute, because I don’t believe the full truth is being disclosed nor the full extent and or practicality of the infrastructure intending to be installed.
It was said at last nights meeting that even though the working committee (3 community representatives, 3 Reps from the Solar Team and one from the TCC) would decide on the best approach and plan for the Farm on the sports reserve; that these plans would still have to go the community for approval. If it is at all possible to have our community agree on the tangle of 20 Tonne of steel “Jungle Jim” designs supporting the solar panels for just 45kw, let alone the other infrastructures to another 55kw, then I will gladly stand aside.
Further I am told that all of this planning will have to go through TCC Planning Dept. Approvals etc., inclusive of “Material Change of use” on the property from Sports and Green Zone to Commercial use.
I haven’t talked about the heat and glare from all things metal and glass, the aesthetic and practical maintenance (rust & corrosion removal & painting of the steel infrastructure—note the rust on the roof of the building from the sea winds thru the Gap) or the risk of electric shock in a general purpose park area. Including the risk of a thief being electrocuted or severely burnt. These panels will be a most sought after item with the itinerant passing fleet stopping in the bay. Then there’ll be the vandals who will bring along the pool scoop handle and try and short out the panels and systems to the glee derived from the Direct Current (DC) sparks. The entire farm should be elsewhere and in a security enclosure.
The hype and scare tactics to “Global Warming” do not equate either, given that there is adequate commercial land elsewhere on the Island – and well able to be located by any Discerning Tourist who might wish to see such an outdated and unsightly project.. It might also be a good position to point out that this $75,000,000,00 project and it’s panels have a very poor Carbon Footprint.
I implore you to have this nonsense stopped before the community outrage comes because the community awareness of the tangle of steel construction planned on the Sports property. I really see this as becoming a major issue when certain things are revealed and I don’t know that Ergon + TCC enforcement on the community is the most conducive way to approach the community. Any news generated by a dissatisfied and or cheated community can’t do any good for the Australian Solar Program. I understand that the TCC want to retain the community clubhouse as an “Interpretive Centre” for visiting Koreans and such, to have a cup of tea while they admire the cloister of “End of World – Mad Max style constructions” of steel and glass in a lush green Sports & Green Reserve, watered by the Waste Water Treatment Plant.
You may well enquire and be told that everything is in order and that the community is engaged – it is not engaged to the monstrosity that is now planned. The whole issue of Solar City Program on the Sports Reserve is becoming tiresome and ugly. I may well invite Mal Gibson to direct the design of the set. MOST IMPORTANTLY – THIS IS A WORTHLESS WHITE ELEPHANT GIVEN ITS OUTPUT CAPABILITY.
What will the real gain be for approximately (as advised by Ergon) $500,000.00 and approximately 2,000sq M of steel and glass of Sports and Green Reserve.
I Humbly await your return to me on this important community matter.
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