Protestors from across the state descended upon Penshurst to rally against one of Victoria’s largest wind developments on Saturday.
Busloads of racegoers travelling through Penshurst on the way to Dunkeld were greeted by scores of placards from an imposing group of anti-wind farm lobbyists spouting slogans such as “Wind Farms Make Me Sick” and “Wind Farms Kill Birds”.
Representatives from RES were in town holding an open day with displays of birds-eye turbine layouts and photographic predictions of the project which could consist of up to 225 turbines.
The RES open day was held to provide residents with an opportunity to have their questions about the project answered but it soon became clear that many of those in attendance had already made up their minds about wind power.
Glenthompson resident Helen Lyons who said she had already been affected by construction at an AGL development at Oaklands Hill dismissed the information on display in Penshurst as “spin” and called on wind developers to be honest with the communities they are going to work with.
Southern Grampians Landscape Guardians (SGLG) president Keith Staff said the open day failed to address the cumulative impact the RES development would have when coupled with the neighbouring Macarthur wind farm which comprises 140 turbines.
Mr Staff also questioned the information on display saying, “the visual montages were misleading and inaccurate (and) many assessments are still not complete”.
Turbines at the Penshurst wind farm will measure up to 175 metres from the ground to the tip of the blade – only 10 meters shorter than the height of the Melbourne’s 50 storey Sofitel hotel.
Protesters said the images displayed failed to properly illustrate how a rural landscape filled with more than 200 skyscrapers would be affected.
But RES developer Simon Kerrison defended the imagery saying, “they were independent photomontages taken by landscape and visual consultants within current Victorian guidelines”.
Mr Kerrison said there was an obvious presence of people from across Victoria who were not in favour of wind energy but RES considered the open day to be a success.
“We believe the majority of the Penshurst community were very supportive,” he said.
“We’d like to thank everyone who came along and made their comments.”
Mr Kerrison said the proposal had only been able to grow from 200 turbines to a possible 225 because landholders had shown a high level of interest.
Daryl O’Flaherty said he had worked hauling cartage at other wind farms and said he could not understand why people were making such a fuss.
“I’m a bit sick of all these negative ideas,” he said.
“I’ve worked in Waubra, Lake Bonney and Cape Nelson.
“When you’re there, it’s just like wind going through trees and I don’t see how it’s so distressing.”
But the SGLG and the Australian Environment Foundation continued their push for a halt on wind farm approvals until an independent review into their effects and benefits has been carried out.
Mr Kerrison said it was important RES took the concerns of the all residents into account and said their comments would be collated over the next few days.
RES aims to lodge a planning application in the first three months of 2011 and will look to begin construction at Penshurst in 2013.
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