Key stakeholders are calling for Ballarat to hold public hearings in the Senate inquiry into the economic and social impact of wind farms.
The inquiry, which has so far received more than 500 submissions on the impact of wind farms to rural communities, is considering holding a day of public hearings in south-west Victoria in late March.
Ballarat East MP Geoff Howard, who lives just outside Waubra, home to one of the biggest wind farms in Australia, urged the committee to meet in Ballarat.
“I think it’s eminently sensible for the Senate committee to come to Ballarat,” he said.
“Ballarat is the centre of a number of major wind farms and the site for many more, and hence we need to explore this issue that provides such significant potential.”
Mr Howard said the inquiry would consider a number of key areas including the benefit of wind farms in terms of addressing climate change, the economic benefit to local communities, and health effects associated with wind farms.
“The more we can have inquiries to try and clarify the facts and separate the myths out, the better,” he said.
Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions executive officer Geoff Adams said more wind farms would have huge social and economic benefits for the region and said the city was duly qualified to host the public hearings.
“It’s important to get the views of the people that it’s going to affect, and having the hearings in regional Victoria is an important first step to that,” Mr Adams said. “Let’s get the views from the community and the broader region and make sure we get a robust and valid decision.”
But Mr Adams warned that unless recommendations made by the inquiry were followed, the inquiry would lose significance.
BREAZE, which has called for more wind farms across the Ballarat region, made a submission to the Senate inquiry outlining the benefits wind farms had to the local community.
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