March 25, 2012

Switch-off will bring relief for Waubra residents

By Evan Schuurman, The Courier, 25 March 2012

A decision to turn off night aviation lighting on the Waubra Wind Farm has been met with relief from residents who live nearby.

The lights are fitted to 48 of the 128 turbines in the wind farm and were originally used as a precautionary measure to ensure air safety for planes.

But the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority has recently advised the lights are no longer required, and Minister for Planning Matthew Guy has given his consent to turn them off.

Maggie Dickson is one Waubra resident who will be celebrating the switch off. Her home is surrounded on three sides by a wall of 38 wind turbines, which all flash intermittently after dark.

“We’re incredibly relieved, it’s just going to make a huge difference. We’ve got a swimming pool on the side that the turbines are on and you can’t feel comfortable in there with lights flashing,” Ms Dickson said.

“I mean the lights are appalling, they’re a complete invasion of space. I moved out here from Melbourne six years ago and I didn’t come out here to be surrounded by flashing red lights.”

The request to turn the lights off was made by the wind farm operator Acciona, and it is now up to them to decide when that occurs.

The Courier was unable to make contact with Acciona before going to print last night.

Evansford farmer Donald Thomas said the move was a small but important step in the right direction.

“They are going to remove some of the lights but we won’t rest until they remove some of the turbines,” he said.

“The lights can be annoying, but they are the least annoying part of the wind farm. The flash flash flash is something you could live with probably much better than the whoosh whoosh whoosh.”

Western Victoria MP Simon Ramsay welcomed the move.

“This is a great decision. The flashing red lights have long been an unwanted intrusion to nearby residents, and to those observing from a distance,” he said.

City of Ballarat mayor Mark Harris was also pleased the lights would be switched off.

“For the folks out at Learmonth the lights on top represent a significant decrease in the amenity; they’re bright and they’re on all the time,” he said.

“But the bottom line is you can’t make it unsafe either.”

The decision will impact 38 turbines in the Pyrenees Shire and 10 within the City of Ballarat.

URL to article: