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VCAT hearing tests arguments  

Credit:  Seymour Telegraph | February 6, 2013 | ~~

The fate of the proposed Cherry Tree wind farm faced its sternest test yesterday, after a week in which both opponents and supporters had something to cheer about outside the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

VCAT is hearing an appeal by Infigen Energy against Mitchell Shire Council’s decision to refuse the $100 million project. The hearing was expected to go 12 days, but faced its first real test yesterday.

That was when the tribunal ruled on whether or not a dwelling within 2 km of the proposed turbines is considered ‘existing’.

An owner of an existing dwelling within 2 km has the right to veto a wind farm project under changes to planning laws by the Victorian Government in 2011.

VCAT has also heard from Mitchell Shire Council.

Meanwhile, outside the hearing, there were rulings on two points often raised by objectors in the past 18 months.

The South Australian Environmental Protection Authority ruled that infrasound – sound below human hearing level – from wind farms was insignificant, and below that of household airconditioners, traffic and people.

Yes2Renewables spokesman Leigh Ewbank, whose Friends of the Earth-aligned campaign has been a major supporter of the Cherry Tree project, said this quashed the claims of opponents who believed infrasound was created at dangerous levels.

‘‘The EPA’s findings further undermine claims that wind farm infrasound cause adverse health impacts,’’ Mr Ewbank said.

Yes2Renewables has been critical of the decision of one of the opponent’s witnesses, Waubra Foundation chief executive Sarah Laurie, to appear as a ‘lay’ instead of ‘expert’ witness, which means she cannot be extensively cross-examined. She has disputed the South Australian finding this week.

But last week the South Gippsland Shire Council also lowered the valuation for a coastal property near the proposed Bald Hills wind farm by a reported 32 per cent.

Council chief executive Tim Tamlin said other property owners had also applied for revaluations, and each case would be decided on its merits.

Cherry Tree opponents have pointed to previous reports which say property values around a wind farm have shown drops of about 30 per cent.

Source:  Seymour Telegraph | February 6, 2013 |

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