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Project Threat – Units may affect wind farm  

THE future of the $600 million Macarthur Wind Farm project has been threatened by the construction of two small farmstay units on a neighbouring property.

The Moyne Shire Council this week approved construction of the two units on a Gerrigerrup property, owned by Anne and Andrew Gardner.

Seven of the 10 councillors voted for the units, with Crs Frank Norton, Ros Stewart and Ken Gale voting against.

The Gardners applied to council to build the two farmstay units near the southern boundary of their property, where it meets the proposed wind farm.

Due to the need to have one kilometre buffer zones between the wind turbines and residential buildings, 12 of the 183 proposed wind turbines would be impacted by the farmstay development.

Unviable

The wind farm developers, Southern Hydro, have objected to the construction of the units, which they said could make the wind farm unviable.

In an objection on behalf of the developers, Mark Dwyer of Freehills Solicitors, said the approval of the units could mean the number of turbines would have to be reduced, and if this happened the project may not go ahead.

"It may necessitate a reconsideration of the wind farm layout which could make the wind farm unviable or unable to proceed," he wrote.

Also objecting was Hamish Officer, whose land would host wind turbines.

Impact on turbines

Mr Officer wrote in his objection that the proposal would impact on the number of turbines on his property.

"If this is the case there will be significant financial loss to my farm, the wind farm developer and Moyne Shire," Mr Officer wrote.

He suggested the Gardners should build the units closer to their house, rather on the boundary of the property.

Ms Gardner said this wasn’t possible as there were intensive lambing paddocks near the house and there weren’t many other places on the property to choose from, due to rough and rocky terrain.

She said it was the ideal place to put the units, as paddocks close to the boundary would no longer be used for grazing if the wind farm went ahead.

"Our ultrafine sheep won’t graze there as they’re sensitive," she said.

Ms Gardner said she couldn’t understand how the two units could impact on the wind farm.

"How can 20 by 20 foot cabins make the wind farm unviable," she said.

Ms Gardner said the approval of the units was a win for all neighbours of wind farms, who had to fight to use their own land.

Positive result

"It’s a positive result, a step in the right direction.

"It’s a bit of justice, we’re doing this for neighbours of all wind farms."

It has been a long wait for the Gardners, as they applied to council for a planning permit for the units in April.

Last week Shadow Minister for Planning, Ted Baillieu, brought up the proposal in Parliament.

He claimed the Moyne Shire had stalled the approval of the units due to pressure from Southern Hydro.

Ms Gardner said she thought Mr Baillieu’s involvement had helped bring about the planning approval.

"The council were reminded of their job, to protect the ratepayers," she said.

However Ms Gardner said she expected to still have a fight on her hands, as the developers were sure to take the case to VCAT.

"They have 25 days in which applications can be made against us to VCAT, they can easily take us to VCAT," she said.

http://www.spec.com.au/display.asp?id=5793

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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