Two huge wind turbines could tower over the West Gate Bridge in a Maribyrnong Council plan to make a statement about saving the environment.
Council has backed a plan for an 80m-high wind farm just 200m from the bridge, on a former tip site next to Stony Creek.
But residents are concerned the site, which is also slated for redevelopment as a nature park, is also just 200m from Yarraville homes.
Council estimates each turbine would cost about $3 million, and is looking at other locations to host more towering turbines.
Each tower could generate 1.5 megawatts of power – enough to power 750 homes.
The council, which has committed to go carbon-neutral by 2015, is calling on residents and businesses to invest in the project.
Maribyrnong Mayor Michael Clarke said the wind farm would dominate the landscape, and send a message to thousands of Melburnians every day.
“This is not going to be the most efficient wind farm in Victoria, because it is away from the coast, and there is some impact on the level of wind from the bridge,” he said.
But it’s the visual impact that Maribyrnong councillors are most interested in.
“The farm will stand quite a bit above the bridge – and that’s part of the thing that interests council, making a statement about where we want our community to go in the future,” Cr Clarke said.
“The point is about helping our communities understand our environmental responsibility.
“Maribyrnong has made the commitment to become carbon-neutral, and we’ve got to help our businesses and households become carbon-neutral as well.”
To get off the ground, Cr Clarke said the project would have to operate as a community enterprise model.
Council already has the backing of Bendigo Bank, whose community arm will help steer the project. But some parts of the community are already up in arms about the project.
Yarraville resident Jenny Turner lives 300m from the proposed site, and said residents will fight the proposal.
“It would be an eyesore – I hate the idea,” she said.
Ms Turner said residents had been promised a nature park at the end of the street.
Council said plans would go ahead to plant 6000 trees in the reserve next year, and said the wind farm would be an added attraction.
But Ms Turner said becoming a green tourist attraction didn’t appeal.
“It would be so ugly, and we don’t want to be a public viewing area down the end of Beverley St,” she said.
If successful, it would be the second community-owned wind farm in Victoria. The first, at Leonards Hill near Daylesford, was backed by Hepburn Shire in spite of fierce community opposition.
Earlier this year, a resident appeal saw the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal also back the permit for a two-turbine farm.
That farm was one of many to cause widespread opposition in parts of country Victoria, but Cr Clarke said the industrial area next to the West Gate Bridge was a perfect location.
“This is an industrial area, and the noise of the traffic is already higher than any noise the turbine would make,” he said.
“If you could hear the hum of the turbine it would be a good thing, because it would mean traffic was down on the bridge!”
In 2002, the Government committed to expand renewable energy to 10 per cent of all Victorian power by 2010.
By Mary Bolling
28 September 2007
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