People who find themselves living next door to a wind farm are unlikely to have their land compulsorily acquired, despite some residents complaining that the turbines are hurting their health.
Michael Pickering, an expert on compulsory acquisition with LAC Lawyers in Melbourne, said there is no straightforward legal process open to landowners who believe their properties should have been acquired before energy companies were permitted to erect large turbines.
A wind farm has been established at the western Victorian town of Waubra, where Spanish-based renewable energy company Acciona leased land from local farmers to erect 128 wind towers.
Local chef Trish Godfrey, whose home and professional kitchen is surrounded by 65 wind turbines, said her property should have been acquired by either the state government or the energy company.
Ms Godfrey said she has experienced almost constant nausea and headaches since the wind farm became operational in the past three months. While she is convinced the turbines are responsible for her symptoms, Acciona has said there is no clear scientific data to suggest the turbines and the low-frequency inaudible noise they produce cause any health problems.
Ms Godfrey said the wind farm has destroyed her quality of life and decreased the value of her 4ha property.
“Nowadays, when people come up my driveway they can’t believe how we weren’t bought out, we should have been compulsorily acquired,” she said.
A spokesman for Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden said that while the government was committed to ensuring consultation was undertaken with communities near wind farms and other developments, “we do not have a policy of compulsorily acquiring properties on behalf of or impacted by private businesses ventures”.
Mr Pickering said once a wind farm was established, it was difficult for landowners to “unscramble the omelette” and secure compulsory acquisition compensation. “The time to intervene is at the planning stage and adjoining land owners should make the argument then,” he said.
In Waubra, Ms Godfrey said her only alternative was to move out of her dream home. “It would break my heart but I think that is the only option, I can’t cope any longer, I just hope to move out with dignity.”
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