Staunch opponents of a major wind farm planned near Penshurst will this week begin campaigning for a moratorium on the project.
Southern Grampians Landscape Guardians president Keith Staff said the RES Australia development, which involves 223 turbines, was a risky venture that should be stopped.
The 30-member group wants to see an independent study completed on wind farms’ health impacts before planning for the Penshurst site progresses any further.
In March Planning Minister Matthew Guy announced that the project required an environment effects statement (EES).
The Department of Planning and Community Development is expected to provide draft scoping requirements for the statement within the next three weeks, with public comment on potential assessments to be sought for at least a fortnight.
Earlier this month RES developer Simon Kerrison told The Standard he was hopeful the EES would allay community concerns.
“(It) will allow us to rigorously assess the potential impacts on brolgas and southern bent-wing bats, which I think was a major concern for those people opposing the project, so hopefully that will be a good thing in the long run,” he said.
Mr Staff said the Penshurst project could potentially join AGL’s 140-turbine wind farm under construction near Macarthur and a 145-turbine project that proponent Wind Prospect wants to build around Willatook.
“I don’t know how many people have any concept of what actually is being proposed … the cumulative impacts and effects will be a major point of my call for a moratorium,” he said.
“(We need) independent professional assessments and studies done in certain key areas.”
A senate inquiry into the social and economic impact of wind farms received more than 1000 submissions and is due to be tabled tomorrow.
Mr Staff said Mr Guy, along with representatives from Southern Grampians Shire and the community, would ideally appoint independent consultants to study the health and environmental effects of local projects.
He is also keen to see independent visual montages completed to show how proposed turbines would look.
“I think the situation (in Penshurst) is unique,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s ever been faced before in Australia, if not the world, where there’s a proposal for these three massive industrial wind facilities to be placed more or less side by side,” he said.
Mr Staff urged Southern Grampians Shire to include areas around Penshurst in its new significant landscape assessment.
At present the project is due to focus on the Grampians and land around the communities of Cavendish, Dunkeld and Glenthompson.
The Victorian Landscape Guardians last week called on the state government to introduce a law requiring all turbines to be at least two kilometres from homes, and to fund independent health research into wind farms.