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Moyne residents wait on rate fall request

Residents demanding a drop in council rates for living near the massive Macarthur wind farm have been told to wait a year by Moyne Shire.

This week a federal magistrate set a landmark decision, accepting an argument that wind farms could undercut values of rural properties.

The move followed another precedent in eastern Victoria in which a landowner successfully lobbied the South Gippsland council to verbally agree to lower rates for his farm property.

Both developments could trigger a rush of applications to local government seeking a rate cut for those living in the shadow of turbines.

Two weeks ago a number of Macarthur residents sent a second request to Moyne Shire asking for a rate drop.

On Tuesday letters arrived turning down their claims.

One of the most outspoken opponents of the wind farm, woolgrower Annie Gardner, had few kind words when contacted by The Standard this week.

“They’ve knocked us back again,” Ms Gardner said.

“I was just disgusted.”

While no updated value has been given for her property since the turbines went up, Ms Gardner estimated its value had dropped by 50 per cent.

Moyne Shire chief executive David Madden said residents would need to wait for the statewide revaluation cycle early next year. While not ruling out reduced property values in the area, Mr Madden said overall rate revenue would not be affected by any Macarthur drop.

“We don’t believe it will impact the overall rate base,” Mr Madden said.

Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) chief executive Rob Spence said any rate reduction would likely occur next February during the two year statewide revaluation of properties.

“You can expect to get objections. I think the court case is going to focus people’s attention,” Mr Spence said.

He anticipated a value dip in some wind farm properties would see councils seek to cover the loss in other rates.

If there is a loss in overall rate collection there is little chance councils such as Moyne Shire will recuperate the shortfall from rates collected from the wind farms.

Rate concessions were granted to the wind industry as incentives by the previous state Labor government.

Moyne Shire is expecting to generate about $500,000 each year from the Macarthur facility, while the considerably smaller Codrington wind farm contributes about $67,000.