BASSLINK ... Engineers' wet dream turns to a nightmare

Thursday, June 1, 2006

A giant underwater electrical umbilical chord now joins Tasmania and Victoria. As of late April, we can now buy Tasmania's 'clean Hydro power', or if their wood fired electricity generators get going, power from their incinerated old growth forests. They can also buy our cheap, off-peak, dirty coal power and save their own to sell to us at times of high demand.

As part of the approval process, a marine monitoring program had to be carried out to determine any impacts during its operation, but that's been changed and watered down. Basslink's owner, UK company National Grid, still can't say if its operation affects the marine environment, such as changing the migration route of whales in Bass Strait. Also, the extra demand put on Tasmania's hydro system will mean more cold water down the Gordon River at the wrong times, altering its ecosystem.

They said...
The cost of Basslink increased from an original $500m to about $800m. The precise final cost was never released. We were told that Basslink would be viable but Tasmanian Hydro will pay $94 million per annum for the use of Basslink with returns from selling power unlikely to reach anywhere near that amount. The Tasmanian Government has admitted that the project will run at a huge loss. Where would these hare-brained projects be without compliant tax-payers and voters.

We were told that the Gippsland commercial fishermen's anchors wouldn't affect the cables, which are 'safely buried' in the reef and seabed. Just when Basslink was to be opened for business, National Grid announced that the fishermen would be provided with new anchors so as not to damage the cable.

They said the overhead cables were safe but landholders are now being advised that fences running parallel to the cable may give off induced electric shocks that could be fatal. The Victorian government didn't insist on underground cables once it hit land. The viability of the project was so touch and go, short cuts were taken thus allowing overhead pylons.

We can only wonder what other corners were cut.

Jill / Basslink Concerned Citizens

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