Whether or not Eden will see a huge windfall from the Boco Rock wind farm development when it commences construction next year is undecided with member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly now saying there are no guarantees.
Dr Kelly announced that the first phase of the $700 million dollar project would commence in July next year, but the company contracted to take care of transporting the components for the 120 turbine facility has balked at Eden and instead wants to use Port Kembla.
“When I found that out I got in touch with Wind Prospects (wind farm developer) and Downer EDI (transport company) to see if we could work out what the issues are,” Dr Kelly said. “I’m particularly keen to do that because sorting those issues out with this project would help us see what the problems might be for other activities at the port with the long-term vision we’ve got.”
But that doesn’t guarantee Eden will see the 880 truck movements from the 11 ships bringing in the wind farm components over four months, which Dr Kelly says would have significant job benefits at the wharf.
“I can’t guarantee it,” he said, “but I can’t leave any stone unturned to secure it as a boost for the local economy.”
It’s a bit of a back down on earlier indications that this key to the future for the Port of Eden was pretty much a done deal.
“The first contractor they were going to go with was keen to use the Port of Eden, but they ended up not going with that contractor,” he said. “The company they ended up with (Downer EDI) did do a survey of Eden and ran into quite a few issues and they determined it would be better to go to Port Kembla.”
The project would see loads of up to 90 tonnes and 54 metres long carted up Imlay Road and through Bombala. Dr Kelly said the main issues that have Downer EDI umm’ing and ah’ing about using Eden were:
• The unsheltered navy wharf may cause shipping delays due to weather;
• Lay down areas near the wharf for the components – they need five hectares;
• Bridges on the route along Imlay Road and up through Bombala;
• The roundabout in Bombala; and
• Reversing room on the wharf itself.
“I convened a meeting with Downer and the councils and we worked through what these issues are and it was pretty clear that as far as we could see all those issues could be resolved,” Dr Kelly said.
“But there are some question marks that remain that need answering. So what we said was, ‘Can you put all your requirements and specifications on paper and let us work through it and get back to you?’”
Downer EDI corporate affairs manager Sonja Kukec said that there was no formal contract for the project yet and that the Port of Eden was still under consideration.
“No decision about which port to go through has been made,” she said. “I understand (with Eden) the roads were an issue and the port is in unprotected water as opposed to Port Kembla which is protected, but the Port of Eden is still being considered.”
To cast a positive light on the process, Dr Kelly said that even if we missed out on the Boco Rock project, it was a learning process to iron out difficulties in preparation for future projects.
“We need to drill down on all of the road issues and logistics issues they (Downer EDI) mention and if we can do that it will help us learn what we need to do to make Eden viable as a commercial port,” he said.
“But there’s a fair bit of work to do and I’ve been furiously beavering away at it to make sure we don’t miss the opportunity if it can be avoided at all.”
Downer EDI is expected to deliver a report on the obstacles it sees in using the Port of Eden within the next two months.