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Cottage renovation up in the air amid wind farm minefield

Bruce Allen fears he may be trapped in a legal minefield in trying to renovate a 125-year-old cottage on his Mortlake district property near a proposed wind farm.

The old weatherboard dwelling is only 1.3 kilometres from the closest turbine tower in Acciona’s 51-turbine project which gained a planning permit before a new state government ruling that there must be a two-kilometre buffer.

Mr Allen has another cottage and his farm house only 1.2km from a proposed tower.

He’s in a quandary fearing the new buffer limit puts him in a non-compliant zone which could make any work on his historic buildings legally doubtful.

“A lot of farmers won’t be aware they too could find themselves in this situation,” he said.

“Here I am trying to fix up the cottage and I may not be able to get a legal permit because now I’m in an non-compliant area.

“I refused to have wind farms on my property, yet I’m affected because of them being so close.

“If my farming rights are taken away then it’s bye-bye.”

Moyne Shire Council mayor Jim Doukas said he had been advised a building permit could be issued for Mr Allen because his cottage was there before the wind farm approval was granted.

“I understand that even if it burnt down he could get a permit to rebuild within two kilometres of a wind tower,” Cr Doukas said.

“It would be legal for him to extend or renovate, but he couldn’t build a new house inside the new limit.”

Mr Allen, who farms at Dornoch on the Mortlake-Framlingham Road, is one of five property owners who paid for independent noise tests hoping to be able to compare with Acciona’s data.

However, Acciona said its data machines broke down in the period when the independent tests were being done.

Negotiations are under way for more tests.

The company must begin work on the project by October 7 next year to avoid having the permit expire.

Another resident of the district said there were two proposed towers only about 200 metres from her family dairy shed.

She criticised what she described as secrecy by Acciona in negotiating with farm owners to host wind towers.