Greendale residents are rejoicing after the developer for the proposed three-turbine Pykes Hill wind farm scrapped the project.
Future Energy withdrew its plans last week after the state government introduced laws requiring a buffer zone between residences and any new turbines built in Victoria.
Under the reforms, developers will require written consent from homeowners if they want to construct a wind turbine within two kilometres of an existing dwelling.
The wind farm had previously been knocked back by Moorabool Council because there were 17 homes within two kilometres, but Future Energy successfully appealed the decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in February.
Greendale resident Nick Sher said the new reforms had led to a “fantastic result”.
“There were even up to 100 homes within three kilometres of the proposed wind farm, so it was a poorly sited development.
“Then there’s the possibility of health problems from living close to turbines and we’ve got a family of young children; why should we have to put them through that ‘unknown’ and be guinea pigs?” he said.
However, the amendments are not retrospective and will not apply to the 121 turbines to be built at the Moorabool and Yaloak South wind farms as planning permits have already been approved.
Mount Wallace resident Janene Skidmore said she would be “the meat in the sandwich” between the two wind farms, with 14 turbines from Yaloak South within one kilometre and another 10 on neighbouring properties.
She said it was unjust that the two-kilometre set-back distance would not apply for the turbines surrounding her farm.
“It’s going to be a living hell; this is what we’ve been fighting for and now other people are going to reap the benefits,” she said.
The developer of the Moorabool and Yaloak South wind farms, WestWind, expects construction to start within two years. WestWind Moorabool wind farm project manager Phil Burn said there was no evidence pointing to negative health effects of living near wind turbines.
He said health concerns were more likely to be the result of residents’ anxieties.
“Our wind farms aren’t built yet but people area already stressed about the projects, so it’s probably concern about changes happening, and has nothing to do with things mysteriously emitted from our turbines,” he said.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy told the Weekly it was disappointing that the reforms would not include the Moorabool and Yaloak projects and blamed the former Labor government for rushing the planning process.
“It’s indicative of the previous government that they approved these turbines in the dead of night just before the last election to avoid scrutiny.”
Moorabool mayor Pat Griffin said the council would “keep fighting the battle”.
“We’ll make sure any turbines built on existing permits are 100 per cent compliant with all requirements and we definitely won’t be taking it easy on them.”
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