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Wind farm worries at Mortlake

A South Mortlake resident fears plans for a wind farm in her neighbourhood are being rushed through to avoid new restrictions.

Energy and infrastructure firm Acciona Australia has plans to construct a wind farm south of Mortlake next year along Framlingham-Mortlake and Terang-Mortlake roads.

The project for at least 51 wind turbines will have the production capacity of 72 megawatts every year.

Since the previous government approved the plans in 2010, the new state government has amended planning legislation for new wind farms to require a two-kilometre setback from residences.

However, south Mortlake resident Shelley McDonald said five wind turbines would be built within two kilometres of her home if Acciona was able to go ahead without reapplying for building permits. Mrs McDonald said more than 70 south Mortlake homes were strongly opposed to the wind farm, fearing for their health and a loss of land value, with at least six living within two kilometres of the site.

“They’re trying to rush it through for their own benefit, not caring about us or anyone else impacted,” Mrs McDonald said.

“I’ve got five wind turbines within two kilometres and the closest is 1.2 kilometres from our place.

“This company is trying to hurry it through before March because then they don’t have to abide by the two-kilometre setback.

“We would prefer not to have a wind farm, but if we have to I think now the government has made a two-kilometre setback for health reasons, any new wind farm should now have that setback.

“It’s really very distressing.” Mrs McDonald moved outside Mortlake three years ago after her husband’s stroke, selling their farm and starting a more serene lifestyle in a new house.

But since discovering Acciona’s wind farm plans she said the couple feared the alleged health effects of wind turbines could force them to abandon their home.

Mrs McDonald said health concerns from wind farms had been raised overseas, as well as at the Waubra wind farm near Ballarat where more than 20 families have abandoned their homes.

“There’s high blood pressure and headaches, they can’t sleep because of the noise, and they feel a real pressure in their ears.

“There are studies all over the world about this and it’s no different to the tobacco industry or asbestos -— the wind companies are saying there are no issues, but people are leaving their houses, walking off the land because they can’t live there.

“My husband already has health issues because of his stroke.”

She said the community was also concerned their land value would depreciate significantly with a wind farm nearby.

“If we can’t live in this house, no one else is ever going to want to live in it and we just have to walk away.

“As you can see in Europe, in 25 years’ time when the companies go broke they’ll walk off and leave these monstrosities which farmers won’t be able to afford to pull down.”

Mrs McDonald said she had asked Acciona for a two-kilometre setback but was told “it wouldn’t be fair to the farmer that had the turbines”.

A spokesperson for Acciona could not provide comment yesterday.