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Giant wind farm fear for Penshurst  

Credit:  Alexandra Weaver, The Standard, www.standard.net.au 15 November 2010 ~~

Opponents of a huge new wind farm planned near Penshurst have clashed with developers at an open day aiming to shed more light on the project.

Employees from RES Australia visited the south-west on Saturday armed with pamphlets on wind energy and a map showing the proposed location of up to 225 turbines.

They were met by members of the Southern Grampians Landscape Guardians (SGLG) and fellow campaigners from towns including Willaura, Cape Bridgewater and Macarthur. SGLG president Keith Staff estimated about 50 people joined the protest and said others may have been deterred by steady rain.

“We believe as a group that obviously the more knowledge and awareness that is out there, people can then make their own rational decision for or against,” he said.

“I think the over-riding concern is the cumulative effect (of turbines) and the landscape effect, the visual amenity.”

The demonstration came a day after Portland firm Keppel Prince Engineering announced it had won a $27 million contract to build 80 towers for the Macarthur wind farm, a deal to create at least 100 jobs.

RES developer Simon Kerrison said the company’s various environmental and technical assessments were being finalised, with a planning application likely to be lodged in the first three months of next year.

“The local population seem very supportive of the plans,” Mr Kerrison said.

He said the high landholder interest had seen the proposal increase from 200 to 225 turbines.

“There are obviously a minority, we believe, who are opposing the project, but it’s important we take those concerns on board.”

The turbines RES will include in its application are 175 metres from tower base to blade tip – a prospect that has alarmed district resident Chris Jelbart, who lives with her husband Ron on a farm south of Penshurst.

“We will be impacted by both the Macarthur wind farm, which will be from the south-west through to the north-west of us, and we will be able to see turbines directly to the east of us from this Penshurst wind farm,” she said.

“I love our views. I love horizons, and we’re not going to have any horizons.”

Australian Environment Foundation executive director Max Rheese was in Penshurst for Saturday’s protest and said he wanted to see a moratorium on Victorian wind farms to allow for an independent review of their benefits and disadvantages.

“There’s going to be a massive increase in wind farms in Victoria, and there are too many questions hanging that need to be resolved,” he said.

Mr Kerrison said RES hoped to submit an environmental effects statement referral to the state government within the next month, a document that will detail the likely impact of a wind farm on Penshurst’s brolga population.

“That report will go on the DPCD (Department of Planning and Community Development) website, so people will be able to view the findings,” he said.

“I love our views. I love horizons, and we’re not going to have any horizons.”

Australian Environment Foundation executive director Max Rheese was in Penshurst for Saturday’s protest and said he wanted to see a moratorium on Victorian wind farms to allow for an independent review of their benefits and disadvantages.

“There’s going to be a massive increase in wind farms in Victoria, and there are too many questions hanging that need to be resolved,” he said.

Mr Kerrison said RES hoped to submit an environmental effects statement referral to the state government within the next month, a document that will detail the likely impact of a wind farm on Penshurst’s brolga population.

“That report will go on the DPCD (Department of Planning and Community Development) website, so people will be able to view the findings,” he said.

Source:  Alexandra Weaver, The Standard, www.standard.net.au 15 November 2010

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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