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Moyne brings out legal big gun for wind farm hearing

A legal team costing $13,000 a day will represent the Moyne Shire Council at a tribunal hearing over Woolsthorpe wind farm permits.

Energy project co-ordinator Wind Farm Developments has lodged an appeal with the Victorian Civil Administration Tribunal (VCAT), seeking an order to endorse plans the government previously refused without amendments centred around noise control.

The New Zealand-based proponents are appealing to remove the additional requirements, and if successful the Moyne Shire Council will bear the costs of any additional damage to roads impacted by the wind farm’s construction traffic.

Mayor Jim Doukas said it was necessary to employ Maddocks Lawyers at the VCAT hearing to protect the council from greater potential costs.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he told The Standard.

“It’s one of those tough decisions – do we try and save money and not go and hope everything turns out all right, but risk getting the wrong decision and think we should’ve done something about it?

“Unfortunately this is the way it works but sometimes you’ve just got to do it. I’m hoping the government goes in boots and all on this because they’re the ones involved.”

Deputy mayor James Purcell voted against the motion at this week’s council meeting, arguing the case could go to a higher court and drag the council into ongoing and expensive legal proceedings.

“If we go to (the) Supreme Court it’s $20,000 and could go on for days,” he said.

However, Cr Colin Ryan countered saying the council needed to be represented to control the discussions, especially at the risk of proceeding to higher levels.

“Doing this without any control is a dangerous approach,” he said.

“If it goes to another jurisdiction, that’s all the more reason to be involved at this level.”