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Substation  plans  furore: Residents fear for peaceful lifestyle  

Credit:  The Courier, www.thecourier.com.au 8 February 2011 ~~

A proposed electrical substation for the Mt Mercer wind farm will “unleash a monster’’ if it is allowed to go ahead, according to Elaine resident Marcus O’Brien.

He fears the town’s central location will result in more power lines and development.

“The substation will be continually added on to service all the wind farms at the expense of all the farmers and residents who live here,’’ said Mr O’Brien, who has lived in the area with his wife Shelley and their four children for six years.

He said they moved to the area for its rural outlook. “We just want a peaceful lifestyle. That’s why we built here.’’

Meridian Energy’s application for the $17 million project at Murphys Road, Elaine, will be considered at a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hearing next month after Moorabool Council knocked it back last week.

The state government planning authority will also look at an application to remove native vegetation for a single-circuit 132kV transmission line to transfer electricity generated at the wind farm to the national grid.

Mayor Pat Griffin said the application to remove native vegetation and use the land to build a substation on 1.9 hectares was contrary to the shire’s wind-farm policy.

“There’s some real concerns about the amount of native vegetation that will be removed and the size of the substation,’’ he said.

“There is a potential for it to become a substation for all the wind farms [in the region].’’

The application came up before the council in December but was referred back to its officers.

A resolution passed at last week’s council meeting stated the proposed use and development created an industrial development in a farming zone.

The council also said the project was not part of the original Mt Mercer proposal and was contrary to the wind farm policy, which assesses applications based on the cumulative effect on the community.

The council said less vegetation would have to be removed if the applicant had located the route for transmission lines on degraded private land instead of road reserves or placing power lines underground.

Cr Griffin said the council would defend its case at the VCAT hearing, which could cost it about $4000.

Mr O’Brien said if the project was approved, the substation would be just 1.8kilometres from his property’s boundary.

The business manager, who will speak at the VCAT hearing, said he was fighting to protect his family’s way of life.

“We built a brand new home here which we moved into at the end of 2004 and then, about 15 months later, we were told this wind farm was going to be built here,’’ he said. “Had we known, we would never have built here.

“The developer is dragging us and the council to VCAT when they should have accepted the council’s decision.’’

Meridian Energy did not respond to questions put to it before publication.

Source:  The Courier, www.thecourier.com.au 8 February 2011

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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