Landholders and councillors were left blowing in the wind yesterday after a controversial wind farm was approved but key recommendations not released.
Planning Minister Justin Madden yesterday announced the approval of the $85 million Woolsthorpe wind farm despite widespread community objections.
Mr Madden accepted the recommendations of an independent panel that assessed the application by Wind Farm Developments.
The 40-megawatt project would produce enough green energy for 23,000 homes.
Preliminary work on the 20 turbine project, three kilometres west of Hawkesdale, may start within months
Early last year residents objected to the proximity of 135-metre-high turbines to their boundaries, overcrowding on the 750-hectare site and shadow flicker hazards for motorists on the Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road.
Landholders and councillors had yesterday not been officially notified of the project’s formal go-ahead.
Moyne Shire Mayor Ken Gale said councillors voted against the proposal last April due to a lack of buffer zones between it and neighbouring properties “but I would expect that the State Government would have taken that into consideration”.
Adjoining landholder Michael Bell said he was not against wind farms but was opposed to the way the project had been implemented.
After yesterday’s news he was more accepting.
“What more can you do?” he asked. “I’m a bit surprised we haven’t been notified about it or anything.”
“We’re very happy with the news that the project’s been approved,” project manager Laura Bassed said.
She said high demand for turbines on the world market could delay construction for up to 18 months.
The company hoped to employ “significant” numbers of local staff during the construction phase which would last between six and nine months once the turbines had arrived.
Mr Madden said the project was part of the Brumby Government’s effort to meet its renewable energy target of at least 10 per cent by 2016.
“The Brumby Government is committed to supporting renewable energy facilities in the right location in order to achieve a more sustainable future for Victoria.”
Australian company Wind Farm Developments began testing on the Woolsthorpe site in July 2002.
It is awaiting approval on a 21-turbine farm at Naroghid, near Cobden, and a 15-turbine project at Drysdale, near Purnim.
By Alex Johnson
17 April 2008
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