Disappointed But Delighted

Walcha Energy – Ruby Hills Survey

We would encourage everyone who can to participate in this survey – this survey will be used to measure support for the project. No doubt,  Ruby Hills will be circulating it to supporters of the project to try and demonstrate community support.  We need our objections to be heard as well. Please take the time to fill it in and encourage anyone else who has concerns to fill it in.  It takes about 5-10 minutes and you have to fill in your name etc. This is really important. This is a survey commissioned and run by Walcha Energy.

RUBY HILLS SURVEY LINK : https://your-say.questionpro.com/t/ARK8NZyHNU


Disappointed But Delighted

by John Heffernan

“A trap, mate.”

That’s how a friend described the info gig promoting the Ruby Hills Wind Farm project at Walcha Show Ground on Thursday May 11th. “They saw you Voice For Walcha clowns coming and dumped on you big time.”

I had to laugh; it was kind of true. But then old mate added: “Don’t feel too bad, though. They did the same to all of us: said one thing then promptly did the opposite. Typical snakes in the grass,”

Frankly I didn’t feel too bad. Indeed, none of us from Voice For Walcha did, except for the fact that it was our encouragement and promotion that drew so many people – unquestionably the majority – to the Thursday event. (The night before, at Woolbrook Hall, was a total fizzer, hardly more than ten people I’ve been told.) We unreservedly apologise to all those who came on Thursday at our recommendation, because the about-face by Walcha Energy was to be expected, and we had been warned. Of course, we could’ve turned the evening into a real barney if we’d wanted to, and in fact quite a few people did actually urge us to do so on the night. But that’s never been our approach. Informed discussion, polite yet firm, is our way, as difficult as it can be on occasions.

So we agreed not to steal their thunder – or was it chunder? – and do things their way, even if that was clearly not what most people who were there that night wanted. It really is about time that Walcha Energy accepted the fact that evermore people have had enough of avoiding open and transparent public discussion of matters pertinent to this whole wind farm issue, enough of swallowing the same old turdbine half-truths and nodding dutifully. That evening at the Show Ground pressed it home like never before, in no uncertain terms, that our community wants real answers to real questions.

Of course Walcha Energy will use that meeting to claim a resounding victory, even though at least 70% of the people were there because Voice For Walcha had widely advertised the event as a real chance to actually ask those real questions and hear those real answers. Oh yeah, they’ll claim crowing rights, even though the public disappointment that night was palpable. I know because I was bombarded, not only at the meeting itself, but with a plethora of phone calls the next day, and the next.

Here’s a sample of comments. There are many more, but we’ve edited for the sake of brevity and economy, and to avoid repetition, but they all come from genuinely concerned Walcharites, part of a narrative that needs to be listened to.

(1) “Heaps of people left that meeting in disgust. It was a joke if you ask me.”

(2) “Badly organised. Consultants were hard to find and seemed to think they were above us. What happened to the forum we were supposed to get? It was like they were hiding stuff from us.”

(3) “Consultants? Don’t make laugh. At least two of them seemed to know very little about their area, and one was downright rude; treated my questions like they were a nuisance. The Social Impact girl was great, knew her stuff and was easy to talk to. But the others? Forget it.”

(4) “I fronted the head honcho and told him what upset me about the project. ‘This is my farm’, I said, ‘my life, my livelihood, a thing I’m proud of and want to hand on to my kids and grandkids, but you fellas are gunna stuff it all up.’ He turned nasty, so he did, and said I was a troublemaker. I burred up at that. ‘If you fellas talked straight and told us the truth,” I said, ‘we’d all be much better off.” He just turned around and walked off.

(5) “I can’t bear thinking about the destruction this project will unleash, but the consultant I spoke to wasn’t even interested. The landscape destruction, the road system, the ridge running from Kentucky down to about the Morgans, the planned grid work, it’s so frightening. They’ll wipe out the trees and accelerate fauna and flora destruction in an area where Landcare groups have worked relentlessly over the years to salvage a piece of truly classic New England landscape, beautiful but brittle.”

(6) “The last thing the proponents want is for us to get talking. They want it all quiet and muffled so they sneak it all past us. But we’ve got to talk about these monsters that will spread all over our countryside like noxious weeds if we do nothing. Projects of this type, on this scale, are just plain wrong.”

(7) “I came away with an overwhelming sense of frustration. Most of my questions were met with: we dont know this yet or it’s what the Government wants or we’re not answering questions tonight. This is not good enough. Walcha Energy is proposing a huge project, and we need to know now how it is going to work, how we’ll deal with a long construction process, with the lasting effects of the finished project and with decommissioning. All simple questions. As a community we can not wait for information to be drip fed; we need to know NOW so we can make informed responses. It is after all our backyard and the number of projects slated for our community is huge.”

(8) “I wanted to hear some real discussion about a number of matters, but especially about Noise. I know a bit about it, and I soon realised that the Noise Consultant wasn’t really up to speed on it all. Believe me, the Noise issue alone will almost certainly prove a litigation whopper in years to come. But you won’t hear that from Walcha Energy, particularly while they continue to have hush-hush gatherings like this one was.”

(9) “The whole thing could’ve been run a helluva lot better. They should’ve opened up properly, introduced themselves and given us all a better idea of what was what. There was only a handful of so called consultants and they were next useless and bloody hard to hear unless you were pretty well right next to them. I’d have liked to have heard everyone’s questions, and to have heard what all the replies were. That way we’d have all been on the same page, not wandering around a big room with no idea of what was what. I gave up in the end and just observed.”

(10) “It was so disappointing from my eyes, an information meeting that was nothing of the sort. We were all there, loaded with questions, and they just put up a wall. Why not answer our questions? Don’t they know anything at all. Are they hiding something? It really was a total waste of time. I left feeling so annoyed, and yet it didn’t have to be that way.”

That’s only a selection of comments from the community, all elicited by the simple refusal of Walcha Energy to make the most of a golden opportunity for a real information evening, where real questions could be asked and real answers provided. There could honestly have been many more seriously negative comments, so patently disappointed was the vast majority of attendees. I know my mate called it a trap, but if you ask me it was one that ended up backfiring big time.

Voice for Walcha


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