The small and traditionally progressive south coastal community of Denmark is being torn apart by a proposal to build a small wind farm near the town’s main beach.
Denmark Community Windfarm, a fledgling company backed by former Greens MLC Paul Llewellyn, wants to spend $5.8 million erecting two wind turbines on Wilson Head above Ocean Beach.
According to the company, the project would produce up to 40 per cent of the town’s power needs and help avoid power blackouts during periods of peak demand.
The proposal, which came after an earlier attempt was rejected by the local council, has been attacked by a vocal group of opponents, who argue that it will despoil the town’s “pristine” coastline.
Peter Mortimer, chairman of the South Coast Landscape Guardians, claimed the project was likely to produce a fraction of its purported capacity and would do little to alleviate the town’s supply problems.
He labelled the proponents “greedy”, saying their refusal to consider alternative sites showed that they were motivated more by financial reasons than protecting the environment.
“If you can maintain your magnificent coastal landscape, still build a wind farm on what you might call previously developed farmland and still get the benefits of that wind farm, then that’s got to be a great win for everybody,” Mr Mortimer said.
Denmark Community Windfarm chairman Craig Chappelle hit back, saying Wilson Head was “head and shoulders above” alternative options.
He said arguments to move the project were redundant because the Wilson Head site had been “hammered” by human activity.
“If the wind turbines could be underground or on a better site I would be the first person to argue against the current site, but the fact is it’s the best site in Denmark (and) the project has to be economically viable,” he said.
Shire of Denmark chief executive Dale Stewart said the proponents were yet to lodge a formal application but indicated he would likely support the proposal.
For Mark Shepherd, a local commercial fisherman and opponent of the wind farm, the problem was not renewable energy but a feeling that concerns had been ignored.