Opposition to a proposed wind farm near Seymour is heating up, with concerns expressed about nearby residents’ health, the potential for future expansion and environmental effects – among other things.
Infigen Energy has proposed a wind farm on Cherry Tree Range, between Whiteheads Creek and Trawool, which could potentially power more than 12 000 homes.
Plans the company showed the TELEGRAPH show that between 12 and 16 turbines, each 100 m high with 50 m blades, would be erected on the site if approved by Mitchell Shire Council.
The project is likely to be valued in the vicinity of $100 million, given each turbine costs between $5-6 million, plus there will be extensive road upgrades required to get the equipment on site, and between 100 and 200 people are likely to be employed during the construction.
A community meeting at a Whiteheads Creek property overlooking the project site on Friday evening attracted 36 locals, with most opposed to the proposal.
The effect on their health was a major concern, with many pointing to issues raised near other wind farms.
‘‘We’re also really concerned about the noise funnelling down the valley from the turbine and what effect it might have on us and others nearby,’’ one couple told the meeting.
‘‘We should learn from (other sites) and take these things cautiously.’’
Darryl Stevenson has a property in Tasmania near a 64-turbine wind farm.
‘‘They’ve absolutely spoiled the vista there,’’ he said.
‘‘The test tower here (pictured and believed to be about 80 m high) gives a completely false impression. The turbine and blades will be double that, and you might want to think of the dimensions of the light towers at the MCG.’’
Sutton Waugh pointed to the heritage listing held by Trawool Valley and the effect a wind farm would have on the skyline and landscape values.
There was uncertainty about how close to the ridge the turbines would be, and if the initial proposal would be a “foot in the door” for a larger expansion later.
Other concerns included that it was an invasion of the natural habitat of some wedgetail eagles, the proximity to Mangalore Airport and the high degree of visibility of night lighting for aircraft, and devaluation of the surrounding land.
The issues are likely to take the form of a petition to Mitchell Shire Council.
Alan Coulson, on whose property the meeting took place, said he was not against wind power, but said: ‘‘Maybe we can get it moved back a bit.’’
‘‘We mightn’t win a war to stop it, but we could at least get them to do that.’’
Bob Wallis was the only resident at the meeting who spoke up in favour of the proposal.
‘‘We’ve got to find an alternative to nuclear power, we’ve got to find something different,’’ he said.
Infigen development manager Laura Dunphy said the residents’ concerns could be addressed.
A comprehensive noise assessment is being undertaken by independent consulting group Sonus, which has extensive experience in the wind farm industry.
‘‘The noise assessment will support the fact that we meet the legislated noise criteria, which is one of the most stringent noise guidelines in the world,’’ Ms Dunphy said.
She pointed to a 2010 National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia review of available research which concluded: “There is currently no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with negative health effects.”
She said with the wind farm being 2 km from the nearest residence, the visual impact on those residences would be limited; and as the turbines were designed to be located on the top of a plateau, they would have minimal impact on Trawool Valley.
Ms Dunphy said there was no requirement for night lighting in relation to aircraft, while studies undertaken by the NSW Valuer General and US Department of Energy had shown no statistical evidence of changes in property values.
The project is designed to plug in to SP Ausnet’s 66 kv network, which restricts how large it could get.
‘‘It is unlikely that we will be able to increase the capacity of the wind farm without a significant upgrade of the network,’’ Ms Dunphy said.
Infigen will hold community information days at Whiteheads Creek on Sunday and at Trawool on Monday.
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