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The Sisters wind farm ditched

Plans for a wind farm at The Sisters have been abandoned.

After a four-year campaign, the developers have decided to call it quits on the controversial 12-turbine project.

The company, Wind Farm Developments, had until last Friday to lodge a final challenge to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) in an attempt to overturn a Moyne Shire Council decision to reject the wind farm.

Moyne planning officers originally recommended the development be approved when it first came before the council in July 2009, but it was unanimously rejected by councillors.

It was then stymied at two subsequent VCAT hearings and two Supreme Court hearings, the last in early August.

Moyne mayor Jim Doukas yesterday welcomed the company’s decision abandoning its plans, saying: “It’s finally come to rest.”

Beef farmer Neil Blain described the wind farm company’s decision to withdraw as “brilliant”.

“It’s good to have The Sisters back,” Mr Blain said. “It’s been a very long process and there are a lot of people who are very relieved.”

A wind farm company representative first approached Mr Blain in April 2008 to determine his interest in placing a tower on his property.

“Originally I thought it sounded like a good thing, but as soon as I refused to sign, based on my own independent legal advice, I started asking more questions about the project and I wasn’t really getting any answers. They just refused to engage me.”

The final plans sited a turbine on a neighbouring property just 480 metres from Mr Blain’s house, which he strongly objected to. He then became a vocal opponent of the project, first addressing the council and then VCAT.

“The turbines were basically placed right in the middle of The Sisters and there were so many houses close by it just seemed to be a really terrible proposal from the start,” Mr Blain said.

Mr Blain inherited his farm about six years ago and put plans to renovate an old homestead on hold until a final decision on the wind farm was made, fearing it could devalue his property.

“The irony is that this one has fallen over but now we’ve got the Mortlake South (wind farm) only a few kilometres away.”

Wind Farm Develop­ments director Alistair Wilson did not respond to calls for comment yesterday.