A group of Baringhup residents plan to fight a wind farm that is being proposed near the town.
Longtime resident Ian Pollard said the community had been informed about plans by Mount Alexander Community Wind (MACWind) to erect up to six turbines on two possible properties on the outskirts of the district.
While supporting renewable energy, and energy that is free, Mr Pollard said he felt the turbines could be placed at a more appropriate location.
MACWind is seeking to establish a small (from one to six turbine) wind farm to generate clean, renewable energy through a community-owned and community-controlled wind farm.
MACWind project officers have investigated a number of sites and analysed several important site-selection criteria, and as a result have identified two sites for further exploration in the area.
“The six turbines could be put down on the coast where they have other farms,” Mr Pollard said, with reference to the Portland area.
He said what most put him off was the sight of the turbines and the fact they did not have to be there.
“People put up with SES poles because they have to be there but these don’t have to be there.”
Mr Pollard said his property, just inside the Mount Alexander Shire boundary, was near the sites of the proposed turbines, and would be in full view of the proposal.
“I’m disappointed that they want to do something they don’t have to do. My main complaint is that they don’t have to put them here.
“They don’t have to save the planet here. They can put them somewhere else.”
Mr Pollard said he fears if they don’t put them on the proposed property they will simply move up the road, to another proposed site, but he will still be able to see them through the fence.
“It’s still the same reason, they don’t need to be here.
“The distance the first proposed wind turbine could be seen from would probably stretch from Bridge-water, Moliagul, Maryborough and to Waubra,” he said.
“The second site would be seen from Maldon cemetery, Lockwood, etc.”
Mr Pollard also voiced concerns about the time frame of the project and the notice given by MACWind.
“The speed the organisation is working at leaves little time for interested or affected land owners to investigate any possible adverse effects of having wind turbines on either of the sites.”
Baringhup farmer Doug Jennings said his family’s home and farm are within three kilometres of the proposed site.
“We have full view of the hill they are going to put them on,” he said, telling The Advertiser he was looking at the hills as he was interviewed over the phone.
Mr Jennings said there were four main concerns he had with the proposal.
They were the impact on the landscape, noise, property values and what it will do to these as well as health reasons.
“It’s all an unknown thing because they haven’t been around for long,” he said about the impact of the turbines on health.
Mr Jennings said he was also disappointed about how he had heard of the proposal – word of mouth.
“One of the most disappointing things is that no-one has contacted us.”
His family has been on the same Baringhup property since 1923, and Mr Jennings now lives there with his family, including two young children.
“I’m disappointed. I’m protecting my farm and our lifestyle. That’s what I don’t like about it,” he said.
“We’re not going to lie down and let it happen.”
Mount Alexander Community Wind, the group behind the project, said eight Baringhup landowners have recently expressed interest in hosting a small number of wind turbines at sites on their properties.
Those sites were analysed and the two sites for further exploration selected.
MACWind chair Mick Lewin said the sites were among a handful that MACWind are investigating further.
“The criteria that led us to these sites included enthusiastic land owners, wind-speed modelling, the number of neighbours close by, the possibility of connecting to the electricity grid and environmental considerations.
“The next step in the process will be to find out what the local neighbourhood think about the possibility, and to find out if the wind-speed is going to be good enough for a viable wind power project.”
Project co-ordinator Jarra Hicks said the plan is that the funds generated from the sale of electricity will be returned to the majority-local shareholders, to the Mount Alexander community and to the neighbourhood around the site.
Before knowing if Baringhup offers viable sites for wind power production, 12-18 months of wind data needs to be collected.
This will be determined by establishing a wind monitoring mast equipped with anemometers.