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Wind project tussle looms


by Liz McKinnon

A WIND farm at Cape Bridgewater approved in the 1990s would not gain approval today because of its impact on the natural tourism asset, a local resident who fought the first proposal in the late 1990s has claimed.

Portland consultant and Cape Bridgewater resident Bruce Campbell said Bridgewater had the second highest scenic landscape values in Victoria, behind the Twelve Apostles, as rated by the National Trust, and was the Glenelg Shire Council’s best tourism asset.

He said local councils, the State Government and residents now realised wind farms could not be built anywhere companies wanted .

He claimed landowners who initially agreed had pulled out of the project and property owners couldn’t sell their land because of the pending eyesore.

“The area is important to tourism. I think this would have a negative impact on the quality of the landscape,” he said.

The Pacific Hydro Portland Wind Energy Project covers four wind farms at Cape Bridgewater, Cape Nelson, Cape Sir William Grant and Yambuk.

Mr Campbell and supporters in 1999 first successfully appealed to VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) against an Energy Equity wind farm project at Cape Bridgewater.

They later appealed against the Pacific Hydro project, and lost, in an effort costing tens of thousands of dollars.

He and others were now considering restarting the group to delay the Cape Bridgewater and Cape Nelson projects.

“Until they can be stopped, delaying it would be a good thing. In my eyes Cape Grant adjacent to Portland Aluminium Smelter and a disused quarry is the better site for a wind farm. It’s already next to large industrial development.

“If they are going to do the project in stages develop Cape Grant before you wreck Cape Bridgewater.”

He said he believed that with luck and time inefficiencies and impacts associated with large-scale wind power projects, compared with other renewable energies, would become more widely understood and Cape Bridgewater may not
be developed at all.

Pacific Hydro spokesman Andrew Richards said with the recent State Government announcements supporting wind energy, contracts would soon be put in place and construction would start this year.

“We’d like to think the whole thing would be over in 18 months to two years. It’s going to bring millions of dollars of new investment,” he said.

“This is a $250 million project and hope over the next few years it will have a real employment boost.”

Between 400 and 500 jobs would be created during a two-year construction phase.

Mr Richards said that, economically, it was more viable to begin work at Cape Bridgewater first to build infrastructure.