The Southern Grampians Shire Council, in south-west Victoria, has passed a motion endorsing a national wind farm ombudsman.
The position, passed by the Federal Government last month, is designed to address complaints about the operation of wind farms.
Councillor Katrina Rainsford, who moved the motion, said the shire had not taken a policy position on the issue and the endorsement was a means of fostering community engagement.
She said she was concerned opposing voices in the debate were not being heard.
“This motion was all about giving the people who are affected by a federal policy the opportunity to engage right up to Canberra and voice their concerns,” she said.
“To actually have a voice in Canberra, and not just a local member who may or may not have a view depending on their perspective of job development.
“With the new RET [Renewable Energy Target], I think there’s a few people who feel disempowered.
“It’s about managing development and the conflicts between neighbours and we have to manage those sorts of issues and if you’re actually having the conversation, you get better outcomes.
“It’s our commitment to community engagement.”
Waubra Foundation sceptical about ombudsman impact
The Waubra Foundation, which represents concerned landholders in Victoria’s south-west, has backed the move.
However, CEO Sarah Laurie said she feared the support would do little to alleviate many of the issues raised.
“What we understand of what the commissioner is going to be doing is that any concerns about the noise, vibration or infrasound-related problems that the community or members of the community are raising are just going to be referred straight back to the state authorities,” she said.
She said the council’s decision highlights the need for increased consultation across the board.
“The unwillingness or the inability of relevant state authorities who are currently responsible for regulating and enforcing the noise conditions and responding to community complaints of noise conditions, that’s the problem,” she said.
“So having a wind farm commissioner of itself is not actually going to change the situation.”
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