Woodhouse residents have reacted strongly against a proposed $24 million wind farm in their area.
In submissions to Moyne Shire Council, 10 families in the small settlement oppose the wind farm ““ and one of the submissions includes 14 signatures. There was just one supporting submission.
A decision on a planning permit for the wind farm will have to be made by both Moyne and Southern Grampians Shire because the wind farm straddles both municipalities.
Wind farm developer, NewEn, has another wind farm proposal near Woorndoo but this has received only three objections.
NewEn is proposing to build up to 15 wind turbines along Morton’s Rd, Woodhouse on two properties, North Gums and Yamba.
Because the turbines will generate less than 30 megawatts, the two councils, rather than the State Government, will make the decision.
Moyne Shire Council chief executive, Graham Shiell, said both councils would meet to see if there is an agreed position on the proposal.
“We will probably make a decision at our April planning meeting,” he said.
In their submission, Leigh and Mary-Anne Maylor, said the proposed wind farm with towers up to 103 metres high and 45-metre blades would “˜dramatically and irreversibly change the character of the Woodhouse area’.
The settlement ““ which grew from the soldier settlement program after World War two ““ had produced a strong community spirit derived from its relative isolation, tough early living conditions, the common background of early residents and the relatively small property sizes.
“The majority of the community is opposed to the development in its current structure and is concerned about the development and approval process,” the Maylors said.
Wind farms had been approved, or were close to being approved, for the Macarthur and Hawkesdale areas and there were also wind farms proposed for the Glenthompson and Woorndoo areas.
“We and other members of the Woodhouse community view with enormous concern the prospect that this part of Victoria will become one giant semi-continuous wind farm, so that wherever one looks the skyline will be dominated by towers and turbines,” the Maylors said.
Kerren Collins said her family had built a new house with many windows to take advantage of the rural aspect ““ and now that view will be cluttered with man-made structures.
She conceded NewEn had actively visited landholders in the vicinity of the wind farm but the sheer size of the turbines affected more people than the immediate landholders.
Ms Collins wanted money to be provided for the Woodhouse/Nareeb community ““ as has been done by wind farm companies elsewhere.
“This would be a form of community compensation and an honourable way to establish a rapport with the community,” she added.
All submissions mentioned the adverse effect on wildlife, especially brolgas.
The Morton family said only two families and the postman used Morton’s Lne currently and there would be a huge increase of traffic on the road, especially during construction.
“We feel that the wind farm has been forced on us and the rest of the community, without enough consultation with those people that it will effect,” they said.
If it went ahead, the towers should be moved as close as possible to the centre of the two host farms.
Peter and Andrew Heazlewood said the question of “˜ripple compensation’ for neighbours needed to be addressed immediately by government because of the proliferation of potential wind farms.
“It is obvious to us that the current unequitable situation is going to be increasingly divisive for local communities,” the Heazlewoods said.
Shane Good said NewEn claimed they made payments in Germany to residents other than the host properties but had been told this was prohibited in Australia. He believed the whole community should benefit and the current policy was “˜creating deep divisions within the community’.
Mark and Sarah Dufty said Morton’s Lane was unsealed, poorly drained and often cut by floods in winter. There were also severe dust problems in summer. They had bought their home two years ago to bring their children up in a safe, secure environment and now there would be significant visual, noise and physical disruption to their lifestyle.
By Brian O’Brien
8 March 2007
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