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Wind farms: Community unease in South West Victoria

South West Victorian farmers and residents have voiced their opposition to more wind farms in their community.

Their views were expressed to National Wind Farm Commissioner Andrew Dyer at a meeting in Hawkesdale last week.

About 70 people raised concerns over noise, health risks, land devaluation, damage to the livability of the local area, planning process, compliance and the lack of transparency over developers’ agreements with other landholders.

Three-quarters of those present raised their hands when asked who neighboured a proposed wind farm.

The meeting was held in response to proposed amendments to an approved wind farm 1km from Hawkesdale, and another near Yambuk and Port Fairy.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne is considering an application to increase the turbine blade height from 126 metres to 180m at both sites.

Sheep breeder Anthony Nagorcka told the commissioner the existing Macarthur wind farm, 5km from his property, prevented him from sleeping when the wind direction carried noise from turbines to his home.

“If these new ones go ahead I could have it (noise) coming from all directions. There has to be a better way, a better place for them,” he said.

Livestock producer Maria Linke, who also lives near the Macarthur wind farm, said her health had been affected by that development, and warned more people would be forced to leave their homes if further developments went ahead.

Following repeated questions about why wind farms needed to be built in populated, productive farming communities, instead of more remote areas, Mr Dyer said developers were looking for access to power infrastructure, not wind.

When asked why new infrastructure was not built away from communities Mr Dyer said: “I don’t disagree with you and I think the Government need to take a long-term vision on this.”

Unlike NSW, Victoria’s compliance rules regarding noise were “murky” and needed to be tightened, he said.