Opponents have vowed to fight for better State Government planning guidelines for wind farms after the Surf Coast Shire approved a 14-turbine farm near Winchelsea.
Barrabool Hills Landscape Guardians maintain existing guidelines are riddled with holes, are outdated by technology and give potentially affected residents little voice.
Councillors voted 6-3 in favour of the 700ha farm at Mt Pollock, bordered by Gnarwarre, Mt Pollock and Peels roads 10km from Winchelsea.
The shire had received 37 objections to the development on grounds including changes to landscape, noise, impact on bird life, lack of community consultation and complaints that the turbines would be too close to the road.
Opponents will petition State Parliament for guidelines reform but Member for South Barwon Michael Crutchfield said yesterday changes would not have shadowed the merits of the Mt Pollock farm.
“There does need to be uniformity of standards across Australia and I’m attempting to pursue that,” Mr Crutchfield said.
“But this is as meritorious as any wind farm I’m aware of and there are many examples of wind farms that have setbacks well below the 1km to one house.
“Council was responsible for planning decisions and used those (state) standards as a basis and I honestly think those six councillors who supported the decision ought to be congratulated.
“It’s fantastic, that’s where we’re going as a state, as a country and as a world, alternative energy is where we go.”
Councillors and farm opponents believe the approval will be contested at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal but Barrabool Hills Landscape Guardians spokeswoman Kathy Russell feared any submissions would be “hammered” under the existing state guidelines.
“It might be too late for us in our battle but we’ve really got to get some changes,” Mrs Russell said.
“We adamantly refuse to wrap ourselves in the blind blanket of happy apathy when it comes to siting too many wind turbines too close to people and their homes.
“We have chosen therefore to fight for an immediate review of the current state policy and planning guidelines for development of wind energy facilities based on new data, new science and environmental, social and economic viability.”
Cr Ron Humphrey opposed the plan.
“I’m disappointed,” Cr Humphrey said after the meeting.
“It will be challenged at VCAT, no doubt, but my disappointment is that we don’t have a local policy to deal with wind farms and that the State Government doesn’t have its own standards and we use New Zealand’s.”
24 July 2008
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