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VCAT set to rule on wind farm  

A controversial plan for 14 wind turbines up to 130 metres high near Winchelsea is headed for Victoria’s planning tribunal, a community group has warned.

Barrabool Hills Landscape Guardians’ Kathy Russell was angry Surf Coast Shire approved the plan with conditions this week despite community opposition.

Ms Russell said objectors were “very disappointed” with council’s decision

“We will continue to challenge this development at Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal,” Mrs Russell said.

“If we can’t stop the development we will try to make sure the guidelines remain. The developers will try to get the restrictions removed, so we’ve got to make sure we don’t lose any ground.”

Ms Russell said the guardians group expected proponent International Power to appeal for VCAT to remove council conditions including limits on the turbines’ size and distance apart.

International Power plans to build the turbines 300 metres apart on Mount Pollack, about 10 kilometres north-west of Winchelsea.

Each turbines’ fans would be up to 45 metres wide.

Objectors questioned the viability of the wind farm as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

They said the development would restrict views, create a traffic bottleneck on Mt Pollack Road, devalue neighbouring properties and detrimentally impact on flora and fauna in the area.

International Power issued a statement yesterday welcoming the council approval.

Corporate affairs group manager Jim Kouts said International Power hoped to start construction in 2010 for completion in 2011.

The facility would provide enough power for more than 1500 homes, he said.

The wind farm would also cut carbon emissions to the equivalent of taking 18,500 cars off the road and planting 120,000 trees.

Mr Kouts did not say whether International Power would seek to overturn the turbine height restriction at VCAT.

Future Energy handled the wind farm through the council planning process but London-based International Power took over the project after council’s green light on Tuesday.

A Future Energy representative is working as a free consultant to help a Surf Coast community group develop a wind farm near Torquay.

Surf Coast Energy Group’s Graeme Stockton told the Independent last week that early testing had identified land north of Torquay with potential for the wind farm.

Alex de Vos

Star News Group

25 July 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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