'Line will ruin Coffs golf course'

A SLICE of paradise in the heart of Coffs Harbour is about to be torn apart.

Coffs Harbour Golf Club’s CEO Jeff Jones says the idyllic course will be decimated when Country Energy builds a 66,000 volt powerline through the neighbourhood, part of a major electricity upgrade for the city.

Mr Jones said hundreds of trees – many of them old growth and home to an abundance of wildlife such as koalas – would be ripped down to make way for the new line and holes and tees may have to be rebuilt.

The club and its 1000-strong membership are bracing themselves for an unsightly 30-metre easement and poles snaking their way through the picturesque course.

Another major worry is the massive disruption when work starts on the project.

“I would assume we would have to close down nine holes, a third of our course, while they are doing it,” Mr Jones said.

“This will probably happen towards the end of the year right in the middle of summer, our premium earning period. We don’t want the line through the course at all. We have met with Country Energy and we’ve told them there is no way in the world we are happy with this coming through our golf course.

“We can’t even plant replacement trees under the lines, only low-growing shrubs.”

Mr Jones said the new line would come off Hogbin Drive and would enter the course at the 25th tee, then race up between the 21st and 25th fairways and across the 22nd tee and 22nd green.

“Country Energy has said they will compensate us to build a new tee and a new green but that’s no good to us because they are paying us to do something we don’t want to do,” Mr Jones said.

“Once you start changing tees and greens it will change the whole dynamic of the golf course. We will have to get a designer in here to have a look at it all.”

After the 22nd green the new powerline will wind its way behind the first green and run parallel to the sixth fairway and near the sixth tee, then leaving the course and continuing at the back of Reid Drive.

“We argue the line should go on the airport side of Hogbin Drive and come in at the back of the 24th tee and continue to Reid Drive,” Mr Jones said.

“That way it won’t impact on the course at all.

“Alternatively, it could go underground. Across the course is not an option.”

Club officials will negotiate again with Country Energy at a meeting on June 22.

Country Energy regional general manager Brian Mclean said the company recognised the impact the new powerlines would ‘potentially’ have on the golf course.

“We have already commenced discussions with the (club) executive to obtain feedback and identify options which would minimise the impact on players both during construction and ongoing,” Mr Mclean said.

“We are currently considering alternatives and will be meeting with the golf club executive to discuss this further in the coming weeks.

“The project is scheduled to commence prior to 30 June 2011 and community consultation will occur at all stages of the project.”

Mr Mclean said Country Energy was in the first stage of community consultation and had presented a proposed route for the powerline.

He said Country Energy would invest more than $15 million to upgrade Coffs Harbour’s electricity network. The new line will link the Bray Street and Thompsons Road zone substations.

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