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Community wind farm share offer: $9.5m and two turbines

The first share offer in Australia’s first community-owned wind farm was launched in Daylesford yesterday.

About $9.5 million in community investment is needed to build the two-turbine Hepburn Community Wind Park at Leonards Hill.

Yesterday, Hepburn Wind chairman Simon Holmes a Court, son of prominent business woman and philanthropist Janet Holmes a Court, unveiled the share offer and said the project was “ready for the prime time”.

A large crowd filled Daylesford Town Hall, where police also attended to keep opposition in check, but they remained quiet.

Mr Holmes a Court said the project had strong support from Hepburn Renewable Energy Association’s 500 members, as well as the 320 letters Hepburn Shire Council received supporting the project.

He said the project would provide significant benefits, including a trust fund, which would give $1 million to the community over the life of the project.

“We just need two turbines, and your money,” he said.

“By 2010, the aim is to be generating clean, renewable energy.”

But not all have been happy about the project, with some residents saying “people don’t want them in their backyards”.

In February 2007, Hepburn Shire Council approved the project before an appeal saw it referred to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The tribunal approved the farm after a four-day hearing.

Former state Environment Minister John Thwaites, who signed off on a $975,000 grant for the project in 2006, attended the launch.

He said the project showed wind farms could bring “huge benefits” to a community, supplying energy and a source of income.

“At a time of climate change, it means we’re going to have far more wind farms, and it make sense for local communities to get involved,” he said.

By Emily Sobey
Environment Reporter

The Courier

26 July 2008