Weather radar sta­tion lag

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Come on, get on with it! That should be a grow­ing re­gional catch-cry, es­pe­cially from farm­ers wait­ing for the ben­e­fits of hav­ing ac­cess to re­li­able re­al­time weather fore­casts across the Wim­mera-mallee.

How long does it take to find an ap­pro­pri­ate site for, let alone build, a weather radar sta­tion?

Ob­vi­ously a long time – or so it seems. We’re get­ting to a point where de­lays sur­round­ing the Wim­mera Doppler Weather Radar Project are sug­gest­ing there is a ‘we don’t want to do it’ men­tal­ity from au­thor­i­ties or that there is some se­ri­ous bu­reau­cratic non­sense at work.

State and fed­eral gov­ern­ments con- firmed in April, 2016, al­most two years ago, that they had agreed to jointly fund the project, de­signed to elim­i­nate a frus­trat­ing real-time fore­cast­ing ‘black spot’ be­tween radar sta­tions in Mil­dura and Mt Gam­bier.

The new radar will help farm­ers across a vast sec­tion of Vic­to­ria plan key time-crit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties, such as fer­tiliser and her­bi­cide ap­pli­ca­tions, re­duc­ing costs and in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and re­gional eco­nomic ben­e­fits. It will also play a key role in emer­gency-re­sponse to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

The State Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted $5-mil­lion to cap­i­tal costs of the project and the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment $3.2 to $4-mil­lion to cover com­mis­sion­ing and an­nual op­er­at­ing and main­te­nance.

We heard in Au­gust last year that the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy had short­listed Don­ald and Hopetoun as po­ten­tial sites for the radar sta­tion and then later that these sites were in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

We’ve since heard again that se­lec­tion of a new site is again ‘close’ and that Wim­mera De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ralph Kenyon, who with mem­bers of his board must be pulling their hair out, re­mains hope­ful the project will hap­pen some time this year.

We un­der­stand a crit­i­cal need for re­search in de­ter­min­ing the right spot for the radar sta­tion and the plan­ning needed to make it part of the na­tional weather in­for­ma­tion-gath­er­ing sys­tem.

But con­sid­er­ing the bureau had a di­rec­tive to in­stall the radar ‘by the ear­li­est achiev­able date’ the project is sim­ply tak­ing too long.

We trust de­lays are based on le­git­i­mate site-anal­y­sis, en­gi­neer­ing, ge­o­graph­i­cal or power-ac­cess rea­sons and not em­bar­rass­ing gov­ern­ment red tape.

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