Plans to increase the height of turbines at the proposed Lal Lal Wind Farm have sparked a call by Moorabool residents for tighter noise controls.
Amendments to the construction permit for WestWind Energy’s wind farm are presently before the state government.
Approved plans include 64 turbines, 130 metres high. However, the developers have applied to alter the plans to reduce that to 60 turbines of 161 metres in height.
Turbine blades would then be lengthened from 46 metres to 61 metres.
Lal Lal Environment Protection Association president John McMahon said residents were concerned about the noise the bigger turbines may make.
He said the turbines would be located as close as 650 metres from homes.
“We calculate this proposal would increase the turbine blade sweep area by a whopping 76 per cent,” he said.
“This development makes it even more essential that a planning panel is convened to carefully consider the greatly increased impacts of the proposed, much larger mega-turbines.”
Bigger ‘doesn’t mean noisier’
But Westwind managing director Tobi Geiger said bigger turbines meant more energy would be generated, with less noise.
“It should be noted that larger wind turbines are not noisier just because they are larger,” Mr Geiger said.
“In fact over the last couple of years, we have seen significant improvements to wind turbine blade aerodynamics compared to the technology that was available when Lal Lal was first approved.”
Mr McMahon said the state government had still not tasked the EPA to independently police turbine noise.
“Amazingly, wind companies continue to self-regulate,” he said.
“The Lal Lal wind facility, if built as planned, would see 2005 people living within five kilometres of turbines. This would be an enormous community imposition.”
Mr McMahon, said the Lal Lal farm, approved in April 2009, still required investors before construction could start. He said he believed the wind farm had attracted interest from Beijing-based company Goldwind.
Goldwind gained notoriety when it built 69 turbines just 180 metres away from houses at the Gullen Range wind farm near Goulburn in New South Wales.
“We would be forced to keep a very close eye on turbine construction as there is a worrying precedent with Goldwind,” Mr McMahon said.
Mr Geiger would not be drawn on what parties are considering investment in the scheme.
“WestWind Energy is actively preparing for the next stage of this project and we are happy to provide more updates on this as progress is made,” he said.
“I have had many discussions with many different parties over the last six months … none has led to an investment commitment by any party to date.”
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