Property values around the Bald Hills Wind Farm site would drop by around $20 million, South Gippsland Shire Council heard last Wednesday.
Don Jelbart of Tarwin Lower warned council of that risk before a packed gallery at the Leongatha council chambers.
Construction of the 52 turbine wind farm is now underway.
Objectors are concerned turbine noise would drive people from their homes.
Mr Jelbart said the State Government had imposed a 2km setback from houses for all new wind farms, “with good reason”.
“People’s health is more important than a large multinational’s profit,” he said.
Another opponent, Don Fairbrother, said the wind farm would breach noise standards, with turbines too close together.
He said 23 families had left houses around the Waubra wind farm near Ballarat because of wind farm noise.
Mr Fairbrother said 50 turbines at Waubra failed to meet noise limits and that a wind farm there was engineered by the same designer of the Bald Hills project.
Noise reports, and bird and bat reports at both sites were also undertaken by the one company, Mr Fairbrother said and called for Bald Hills’ turbines to be up to 740m part, not 300 to 400m.
“It is hard for a small community to fight bureaucracy with the information and resources they have got,” he said.
Another objector Mark Burfield said no council would have “the guts” to issue an enforcement notice should noise limits be exceeded.
“We have got the technology to make this work but it takes guts and leadership to make this work,” he said.
Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd was told by David Hodge, executive director, State Planning Services and Urban Development, that 11 turbines would not meet noise standards.
Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd’s Matthew Croome disagreed with Mr Hodge’s view.
“It appeared that the 11 turbines had been selected because they were the closest turbines to neighbouring dwellings. Our modelling and data confirmed that we would be able to comply with our permit,” he told The Star.
Helen Gibson, deputy president of the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), sat on the hearing between Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd, and Planning Minister Matthew Guy that ultimately ordered the minister to approve the wind farm recently.
Ms Gibson stated: “We are satisfied from such evidence, when read in conjunction with the Marshall Day April 2012 assessment and Mr Delaire’s (acoustic engineer Christophe Delaire) evidence statement that the wind energy facility can achieve compliance with the noise criteria set under the permit.”
Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd has started construction on a site at Buffalo-Waratah Road, with a compound built and some roadworks done.
Mr Fairbrother criticised the lack of warning signs on roads warning motorists of gravel trucks. One driver was pushed
off the road by a truck, he said, and is concerned someone could be killed.
Cr Jeanette Harding wanted to know if Mitsui would give council funding for roadworks, as Stanwell Corporation had done to upgrade Toora roads.
CEO Tim Tamlin said roads would need to be reinstated to the condition they were in before construction began.
Council’s manager of planning and environmental health. Bryan Sword, said Mr Croome had engaged council approved contractors to undertake road works throughout construction.
“The (Buffalo-Waratah) road would need to be substantially upgraded before heavy vehicles use the road in the future,” he said.
Mr Sword said the condition of the road had worsened since construction began.
Mr Croome said works had already been undertaken on the northern section of Buffalo-Waratah Road and would be upgraded in the future. Surveys of roads between the Fish Creek quarry supplying gravel and the wind farm depot had been done.
Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd was forced to start work before its planning permit expired on August 19, but could only start after the minister gave approval. The company had 16 days to act.
Mr Sword told council site signs, a survey for the site compound, site fill, construction of a compound, and drains and roads preparations were done before the deadline.
Council’s planning department was satisfied enough work had been undertaken to constitute a start, but objectors and Cr David Lewis thought otherwise, believing concrete or other permanent works should have been completed.
Cr Lewis suggested council write to the State Government saying works had not been started to council’s satisfaction, but mayor Cr Warren Raabe suggested he lodge a notice of motion to that effect at a council meeting.
Mr Sword said council is working with Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd to establish a communications plan to share information about the project with the community.
Construction must be completed before August 19, 2015.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding