South Gippsland Shire Council will raise residents’ concerns about noise from the Bald Hills Wind Farm with Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy.
Council resolved to “write to the Minister for Planning and inform him of the petitioners’ concerns and requirements that appropriate actions are undertaken in response to any non-compliance with the noise-related conditions of planning permit TRA/03/002”.
Don Fairbrother – who lives next to the site of the proposed wind farm at Tarwin Lower – remained philosophical about council’s decision.
“In local government politics there is always a compromise,” he said.
“It was not what we wanted but the council did say they would write to the minister’s office and ask him to make sure the turbines are compliant.
“Noise is the minister’s responsibility so the council is acting on our behalf to ensure the minister does comply.”
Cr Bob Newton spoke against the proposal to write to the minister, which was passed six to one.
He couldn’t see the sense, he said, of writing to a minster about something that hasn’t happened.
Wilma Western also spoke about the wind farm at council’s public presentation session.
“This petition boils down to a last-ditch attempt to prevent construction of the wind farm going ahead,” she said.
“When the wind farm was first proposed, quite a few local farmers were hoping their properties would be regarded as suitable to host turbines because the annual rental payments can be helpful in times of drought or when the prices of cattle, lambs or milk go down.
“But soon opponents mobilised with the help of a Melbourne resident who seemed to know a thing or two about planning campaigns.”
Ms Western spoke of the thoroughness of the planning and research process that took place before the Liberal federal minister issued the permit.
She described the protesters’ wide-ranging arguments and expectation that council refuse to accept the findings of experts, VCAT and responsible government ministers as “weird and beyond desperate”.
“Bald Hills Wind Farm should go ahead,” Ms Western said.
“It will provide local jobs.
“It will assist some local farmers.
“It will provide more clean renewable electricity to Victoria.”
Council has also received an application from Bald Hills Wind Farm for the removal of native and non-native vegetation so that it can install 27km of power line poles.
The power poles will hold up powerlines that convey electricity from the wind farm to the electricity substation at Leongatha.
If the permit is granted, some vegetation will be removed north of Tarwin Lower from properties on Gravel Pit Road, Inverloch; Koonwarra–Inverloch Road, Leongatha South; Millars Road, Pound Creek; Powneys Road, Tarwin Lower; and Inverloch–Venus Bay Road, Tarwin Lower.
South of Tarwin Lower, trees will be removed from properties on Davies Road, Fishers Road and Bald Hills Road.
Anyone may look at the application and supporting documents through council.
People who may be affected by the granting of the permit may object or make “other submissions” to the council.
Council will decide on or after December 24 whether to grant the permit.
Matthew Croome, general manager of Bald Hills Wind Farm, reassured The Star this was the normal installation of power poles.
“You can see by looking at powerlines in the district… when there’s a tree adjacent to the powerline sometimes it needs to be trimmed,” he said.
Energy Safe Victoria recommends a certain minimum clearance around power lines for safety reasons.
The operation will be “a mixture of trimming and removal”, with only vegetation more than 3.5m high in the powerline’s path to be trimmed or removed.
The easement around the powerline will be between 14m and 15m wide.
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