Power line shock: The blue line shows the proposed high-voltage powerlines.
Power line shock: The blue line shows the proposed high-voltage powerlines.

People unite to fight power plan

IF new 33,000-volt power lines were to be constructed a couple of metres from your front door would you want to be consulted about it?

Evelyn and Leon Despea of Myall Street say they did not receive any notification of the pending project, despite an Energex spokesperson telling The Gympie Times that a “flyer (was) sent to residents in September 2009…”

The Despeas say the majority of residents in the area had no knowledge of plans to install the two high-voltage powerlines through their inner-suburban neighbourhood until they saw the article about it in The Gympie Times on April 9.

The neighbourhood consists of many older residents but there are quite a few young families moving into the area, Mr Despea pointed out.

However all, bar one man he spoke to, knew nothing about the proposed powerlines that will link the new Pine Street substation with the existing substation on the corner of Wises Road and Hambleton Road.

“The only man who knew about it had asked surveyors what they were doing,” Mr Despea said.

Mr Despea said he only discovered what was happening when he asked an Energex worker.

An emotional Mrs Despea said the mammoth task of stopping this project was beyond them but, like David going up against Goliath, she and her husband felt they had to let people know what was happening and so far they have been overwhelmed by support.

In Mary Street this week they managed to gather 200 signatures on a petition in just two hours and have arranged to meet with Member for Gympie David Gibson on April 28.

Everyone they spoke to was concerned about the health dangers of living so close to high voltage power lines, Mrs Despea said.

“It’s upsetting a lot of people,” Mr Despea said.

“The poles are going to be enormous – 18 to 20 metres high.

“We’ve talked to people whose kids have just started at (Central) school. They knew nothing about it.

“Those kids will be walking underneath them everyday.

“I don’t believe it’s unstoppable – so many people are up in arms about it.”

Comments on the petition include “Think of the children”, “I’m pregnant, no thanks” and “The cheapest is not the healthiest – do the right thing even if it’s more expensive” – referring to the fact that many people say the only reason they are putting in overhead powerlines rather than underground cables is because it is the cheaper option, Mrs Despea said.

She said what Energex was intending to do was “archaic”.

The Despeas said they feared they would not be able to have their grandchildren stay with them if the powerlines were installed because of the question mark over health issues connected with high voltage overhead powerlines.

They said they were particularly concerned for all the children living near the route.

The petition “to stop the installation of high voltage power lines through residential Gympie” has been placed with several businesses in Mary Street.

The Energex spokesperson said concerned residents could call Energex on 1300 762 213 and quote project number C0065303 “to discuss the project particulars”.

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