Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Squabble over island's 'unsightly' windsock could risk lives

Quoin Island residents are engaged in a squabble over what could potentially be the difference between life and death.

The body corporate committee has been involved in an ongoing dispute over a windsock located on the island's helipad, on the island's north-eastern end, which resulted in one resident cutting the windsock down at ground level, after complaining it was an "eyesore", according to former committee chair Owen Griffiths.

After the January floods, Mr Griffiths said the site where the helipad lay was the only spot on the island that was above water.

He fears the removal of the windsock, which may have provided important assistance to helicopter pilots in an emergency, may cost someone their life in dismal conditions.

"We had a majority vote to construct the helipad and windsock, so we introduced a thing to have a helipad put on the island for safety for our designated emergency evacuation area," he said.

"There's only one area that can be on the island, at the north-east end. I designed the pad to the specifications of the rescue people in Rockhampton."

Mr Griffiths has spent 25 years in rescue work.

"When big, strong south-easter blows, it directs the wind down this hollow in the middle of the island," Mr Griffiths said.

"A chopper pilot will come in looking at the waves in front of him and think south-easter, but when he gets down to tree level, he's got a big south-wester blowing.

"In adverse conditions you can't see 50 yard in front of you,. My concern is it's a safety factor. They have windsocks at airports to tell pilots the direction and the velocity of the wind at ground level."

Mr Griffiths said he was disappointed by a fellow member of the committee who, after the helipad had been voted for and constructed, convinced the committee the windsock was unnecessary and reduced the value of properties because it was "unsightly". 

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