Concern over Cudgen sub-station upgrade

PLANS to massively upgrade a Tweed Coast electricity substation to cater for huge growth at the Salt development could be a turn-off for tourists.

That's the fear of Cudgen tourist operator Helen Taylor, co-proprietor of Beachfarm Farmstays and Tours, which has been catering for increasing numbers of Japanese visitors.

She has expressed alarm at the rubber-stamp process of approving the upgrade and the lack of associated landscaping.

Mrs Taylor has called on Country Energy to provide more landscaping than that shown in the development application approved by Tweed Shire Council officers without it going to a vote of councillors.

Mrs Taylor said she received a letter from council staff advising the huge expansion of the substation beside Cudgen Road had been approved on December 2 by a panel of officers.

And despite sending letters of objection to all councillors she said she was later told by one: "Your application never saw the light of day for councillors to consider it".

She said her family's Beachfarm property surrounded the substation on three sides and she was afraid the old saying "engineers don't care what anything looks like so long as it functions" applied in this instance.

Because tourists could perceive a health threat from highly visible electrical equipment and cables she said she wanted Country Energy to "use a modern buffer design which adequately landscapes the site with suitable trees so that it doesn't frighten people".

She was also concerned that council had approved the development even though it was set back a mere 1.5 metres from the frontage to Cudgen Road, whereas Beachfarm had been told if they wanted to build a new cabin it must be set back 30 metres.

A Country Energy spokesman was unavailable for comment. Senior council planning staff were on leave.

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