TERRIBLE VIEW: Gol Gol residents are desperately calling on Essential Energy to move its infrastructure underground in an effort to improve the visual amenity of the highway through town.

By VINNIE RODI

CONCERNED Gol Gol residents have called on Essential Energy, the body responsible for maintaining NSW’s electricity network, to rectify the “detrimental effect” its infrastructure is having in the area.

A number of concerned locals have banded together to pen letters to the State body, describing Essential Energy’s infrastructure along Adelaide Street (the Sturt Highway) riverfront reserve between Bligh Street and Tapio Street as “unsightly”, and being “a detriment to the amenity of the area.”

Residents say the area most impacted by the infrastructure is Dring’s Hill Reserve, which has “panoramic views of the Murray River for motorists travelling along the Sturt Highway – an opportunity not repeated elsewhere in Gol Gol or the surrounding area.”

“It is a major drawcard for tourists, photographers and picnickers, and is also a common location for wedding ceremonies and community gatherings,” the letter reads.

“Essential Energy’s infrastructure on Dring’s Hill Reserve is an eyesore that detracts from the amenity of the area. Gol Gol is the prettiest town on the Murray River – with the ‘jewel in the crown’ being Dring’s Hill Reserve.

“During major water sport events such as the Mildura 100 Ski Race, Dring’s Hill Reserve is a primary viewing location for spectators.

“Gol Gol is the fastest growing area of Wentworth Shire, with new subdivisions set to cater for approximately 500 new residential housing allotments. In recognition of this growth, Wentworth Shire has undertaken extensive works along the riverfront to improve accessibility and services.

“Recent works in James King Park (approximately 300 metres east of Dring’s Hill Reserve) include a houseboat mooring area, car parking for boats and trailers, construction of a dual boat ramp, a canoe launch facility, sealed paths and soft landscaping with seating, lighting and signage.”

Concerned residents have also cited numerous power supply issues.

“This summer we have experienced significant issues with our house circuit breakers ‘tripping’ – particularly on days of excessive heat,” the letter reads. “We have also incurred interference (seemingly electrical) with our television reception.

“After investigating these ‘faults’, we were advised that the problem was due to an inconsistent power supply rather than the integrity of our home’s circuitry. Further enquiry has revealed that the Temporary Low Voltage Regulator installed on a pole in Dring’s Hill Reserve is faulty. We understand that Essential Energy is currently considering options to rectify the situation.”

Nearby residents have called for Essential Energy to replace the area’s Temporary Low Voltage Regulator with a transformer (on the existing pole), while also calling on the body to run a larger gauge Low Voltage Line on the existing infrastructure.

Calls have also been made to replace the existing infrastructure with underground cabling for both the Low Voltage and High Voltage Line.

Essential Energy responded to initial concerns on March 9, conceding that problems existed with the electricity supply between Bligh and King Streets. In that same correspondence, Essential Energy stated that, “Subject to final approvals, work is planned for the 2017/18 year to improve the electricity supply network in (the) local area.”

Essential Energy’s response also indicated that works already scheduled on their infrastuture in the area would include the installation of a new 100kVA substation pole to alleviate power quality issues between Bligh and King Streets.

Concerned residents, however, believe these works will only add to the “unwarranted intrusion” on the amenity and environment of the area, and have again penned a letter to the State body expressing their concerns.

“Unfortunately, the underlying message in your correspondence appears to be that because Essential Energy’s infrastructure has been in place for many years, citizens have effectively relinquished their right to complain about its environmental impact,” the letter reads.

“The problem with this argument is that social, economic and environmental expectations are changing – and rapidly. What may have been tolerated 50 years ago is open for legitimate challenge in 2018.

“You may consider the installation of a larger pole and transformer to be a relatively minor environmental infraction – but there are threshold issues involved here. The size and complexity of your infrastructure has increased incrementally for years – and… you have reached a tipping point.”

Residents have also expressed fears over the increased likelihood that the transformer for the new 100kVA substation pole proposed by Essential Energy could be prone to transformer explosions due to it being insulated with oil.

“The volume of oil is considerable,” the letter reads. “Unforeseen events such as design defects, voltage surges, lightning strikes, structural damage, rapid unexpected deterioration of insulation, sabotage, and even maintenance errors can result in transformers exploding.

“An exploding transformer may initially throw insulating oil great distances (particularly if elevated), causing contamination of nearby waterways.

“According to those involved in the electrical supply industry, lightning strikes are by far the most common cause of transformer explosions. This is problematic given that lightning strikes are a common event in Sunraysia.”

Concerned residents are awaiting further details from Essential Energy, including an assessment of the impacts of the proposed activity on the environment, a description of any mitigation measures or environmental safeguards which have been incorporated into the proposal to mitigate likely or potential impacts, a visual amenity assessment given the likely impact on the visual amenity of nearby properties and an assessment of any adverse or beneficial effects on local community, businesses, agriculture, tourism, labour and industry structure.