An $85 million wind farm proposed for Woolsthorpe is unlikely to receive Moyne Shire councillors’ support.
The 20-turbine farm spread across 750 hectares of grazing land three kilometres west of Woolsthorpe, if approved by the Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden, would contribute about $76,000 annually in rates to the council.
Several councillors are expected to vote against the project which has three 135-metre turbines within 60 metres of adjoining property boundaries.
About 18 turbines are within 500 metres of the host property boundary and most are on the outer boundaries of the wind farm site.
The project’s energy output of 40 megawatts is beyond Moyne Shire’s planning powers to approve or reject.
The council will forward a submission to Mr Madden for his consideration.
Council officers have recommended the council support the project but will seek to have the turbines set further back from property boundaries.
The council has previously used a Californian recommendation that turbines be set back at least three times their height or at least their height plus 10 per cent if the adjoining owner has agreed to a lesser setback in writing.
Moyne Mayor Gerald Madden said planning officers were working within their brief and planning regulations but the councillors would decide on the submission to the minister.
Cr Madden said he had “grave concerns” about the project which appeared to use a computer modelling program for turbine placement with little regard for the project’s environs.
Cr Brenda Hampson, who supports wind energy, yesterday said the Woolsthorpe Wind Farm proponent had tried to cram too many turbines on the site.
She said the turbines were too close to boundaries.
Cr Hampson said some turbines along the Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road posed a danger to motorists.
Cr Jim Doukas said he wanted councillors to reject the project and for the proposer to return to the council with amended plans.
“When you travel from Mortlake to Geelong you won’t see a wind turbine on sheep country and windswept plains.” Cr Jim Doukas
He said Moyne Shire was gaining a reputation for having a soft touch towards wind farms and the lack of regulations posed problems.
Cr Doukas said there were building rules regarding overshadowing and height but they meant nothing when wind farms were being proposed.
“When you travel from Mortlake to Geelong you won’t see a wind turbine on sheep country and windswept plains but we are being overrun in Moyne,” Cr Doukas said.
He urged residents to make submissions on the project to ensure councillors knew the community’s feelings.
Cr Bruce Couch indicated he would vote against making a positive submission to the minister purely because the turbines were too close to neighbouring boundaries.
Cr Di Clanchy said she had concerns about the project and predicted councillors could change some aspects of the recommendation.
Councillors will debate the merits of the wind farm in Mortlake tomorrow from 3.30pm.
By Sarah Scopelianos
16 April 2007
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