Anti-wind turbine protesters pushing “nonsensical” fears are delaying plans to introduce a wind farm in Mount Alexander Shire, the chairman of the MACwind project says.
The community wind project has narrowed its search for sites to two properties in Baringhup.
Members of MACwind met local residents to talk through concerns over the project this week, but chairman Mick Lewin said the discussion was overtaken by a vocal group of protesters.
“Outside agitators came to put their extreme theories forward,” he said. “The attention put on them showed their concerns to be the nonsense they are.”
Mr Lewin said a large number of the people at the 200-strong forum were “serial objectors” who had travelled to Baringhup to complain about toxic health fears from turbines.
“We didn’t want to get into a dogfight with them. But given the sentiment of the meeting, we thought we’d delay plans to have a period of reflection.”
Federal Senator John Madigan – who has put a bill to senate calling for greater regulation of wind farms – said the opponents to wind farms held legitimate concerns. “I was at the meeting listening to people’s concerns, and they were ones that are mirrored across the country,” he said.
“My primary concern is health issues, but there’s a social, economic and environmental impact.”
Baringhup farmer Doug Neilson owns one of the properties considered for the community wind farm and said people needed to understand the potential benefits of the project. “Everyone should get their facts right before they knock it on the head,” he said.
Mr Lewin said the criteria that led MACwind to Mr Neilson’s property were wind-speed modelling, the number of neighbours close by, the possibility of connecting to the electricity grid and environmental considerations.
Another meeting with the Baringhup community committee will be held next month.
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