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Wind debate balloons

Angry anti-wind farm protesters yesterday released yellow balloons to protest against a proposed 19-turbine development north of Smeaton.

About 50 protesters turned up at the Smeaton Bowling Club about noon where Wind Power Ltd was holding a community display.

The protesters, led by the Spa Country Landscape Guardians Group, also set up an anti-wind farm display in an adjoining area.

The protesters, many wearing bright yellow T-shirts with the slogan “No Tuki Turbines” released about 300 balloons outside the bowling club with the message “Toss Tuki Turbines”.

The balloons also had seed pods attached to draw attention to planting trees as a way of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Spa Country Landscape Guardians Group spokesman Will Elsworth said the proposed wind farm had divided the community.

He said a survey by the group showed 96 per cent of people within a 5km radius of the proposed site were against putting wind turbines in the area.

“We’re being ignored by the Bracks labour government.

“None of the people wanted this here, it’s thrown upon us.”

Mr Elsworth called on Wind Power to address residents’ concerns regarding noise, wellbeing and property values in writing.

He said the group was also concerned about the site being partially covered by a significant landscape under the Hepburn Planning Scheme to preserve the districts’s volcanic features.

Wind Power Pty Ltd Director Andrew Newbold said the company was willing to engage with the community and share details.

“This is the first step in the community consultation process,” he said of the information session.

Mr Newbold described the protesters as a “noisy minority” and said a number of the community were in favour of a wind farm

“We’re happy to debate on the issues, renewable energy form wind farms have a low, if not negligible, carbon footprint and that’s what we’re about.”

He said community feedback was a key ingredient in Wind Power’s decision whether to apply for a planning application.

“If there’s an overwhelming majority of people who don’t want it then it will not proceed … but there are a number of people who do want it.”

“It’s fair to say we need to listen to all members of the community for and against.”

The Courier

4 June 2006