The lawyer who represented South Gippsland Shire Council during the Toora wind farm process has admitted he had concerns about the landscape impacts of the project.
He has since joined a successful anti-wind farm lobby group when his town was considered for a seven-turbine facility developed by Epuron.
Paul Barber and his neighbour Nell Rankin led the fight against a proposed wind farm at Twofold Bay, Eden tn New South Wales.
The project has since been voted down by the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel on the basis it has limited community benefit and “unacceptable visual impact”.
Central to the ‘Save Twofold Bay’ campaign was Mr Barber’s reflections on his involvement in the industry at Toora.
In his campaigning, Mr Barber said the people of Toora have come to regret the decision to allow wind turbines to be built.
He said the towers have provided little or no economic benefit, ruined rural vistas, affected heallh and divided the community.
“I acted for South Gippsland Shire Council In support of a wind farm at Toora, near Foster In VIctoria, which was completed In 2002.” Mr Barber said.
“Council had a very proactive wind farm policy (later discontinued) but the Toora community was bitterly divided on the issue.”
He said employment, cheaper electricity and tourism hopes for the region proved unfounded.
He said it resulted in an anguished and divided community.
“Some Toora landowners, who would receive rental or lease payments for having wind turbines on their property did not object to the wind farm, but other locals, who had done some research into wind farms, objected on grounds such as effect on the landscape.
“Those who hoped for an employment boost to the Toora township were bitterly disappointed.”
Mr Barber contends his tourist town of Eden would not recover from the effects of a wind farm.
The Eden proposal was for seven turbines; 12 were erected around Toora.
A further 52 wind turbines are planned for Bald Hills by Mitsui Australia.
“I went past some time later (after the hearings and when permits were granted) when they (the Toora turbines] were under construction and I was absolutely horrified to see the towers going up,” Mr Barber said.
“They didn’t have their nacelles (hubs) or blades on at that stage but I thought “what have I done to these people?’
“… I wasn’t the only one but I was a contributing factor.”
Mr Barber said he had concerns about the landscape impacts of the Toora proposal “before the hearing had even finished” but did not talk about them as his duty “was to the client at the time”.
“It’s a damned shame.”
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