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Farmer battles against plans for 51 turbines

One of Australia’s most renowned Hereford cattle studs is caught up in a protracted dispute about noise levels from a proposed wind farm near Mortlake.

South Boorook, on the Mortlake-Framlingham Road, will be flanked by some of the 51 turbines proposed by Acciona Energy and there are fears about possible detrimental effects of low-frequency noise on humans and livestock.

Property owner Peter Allen is among a group of concerned local residents who paid more than $3000 each to have independent noise monitoring data collected, only to find their efforts may be in vain.

Mr Allen is also worried that an airstrip on the property, which has been used by clients, charter operators and private pilots since 1965, could be at risk from nearby wind towers.

Mr Allen said the spread of south-west wind farm projects challenged the principle of farmers having the right to operate their farms unhindered by outside company interests.

He wrote to the Victorian Farmers’ Federation highlighting the issue.

“We have refused to have towers on our property, but will be surrounded by towers on neighbouring properties,” he told The Standard yesterday.

“I think the right to farm as our family has done for the past 90 years is very important.

“If low frequency noise from wind turbines causes headaches in humans then there may be a link with animals.

“What we are tying to do is forewarn everybody there needs to be a hell of a lot more research, particularly on low-frequency noise.”

Acciona told The Standard it was continuing to work with the Community Engagement Committee to ensure an effective flow of information.

Acciona said the South Boorook airstrip had been taken into consideration and would still be able to function “at all times”.

The company said it was on track to start construction of the Mortlake south wind farm by October next year.

Mr Allen and neighbour Shelley McDonald, who heads the Mortlake South Action Group, said a private consultant was engaged to carry out noise tests on five properties so residents could compare data with Acciona’s research.

However, they said the company informed them it could not provide comparable data for the same time span because equipment on its meteorological mast had broken down.

The property owners were skeptical of Acciona’s reasons.

Acciona yesterday said it had not been told of the residents’ noise monitoring outside of the agreed planning permit process until after the fact.

“Once Acciona was made aware of this additional monitoring by the residents and the issue at the MET mast, it offered to fund the monitoring at four locations,” the company said.

“The offer was refused.”

Mrs McDonald said the long-running dispute over noise levels at Waubra wind farm near Ballarat had heightened Mortlake concerns.

Mrs McDonald built a home in the district three years ago to care for her incapacitated husband and is concerned about health effects and lower real estate values.