Western District residents are gearing up to fight what has been described as “thousands of hectares of whirring metal blades”.
Residents from Hawkesdale, 45km north of Warrnambool, are concerned about the number of windfarms proposed for their area.
AGL Energy has a 140-turbine windfarm at Macarthur, west of Hawkesdale, while another five developments are proposed for the region.
One approved windfarm with 31 turbines is less than 2km from Hawkesdale’s town centre, while in the nearby farming area of Willatook, a proposed windfarm by Wind Prospect would have 98 turbines, 220m high, on 7000ha.
If all permits are granted, 237 turbines could be constructed, covering thousands of hectares.
The area is ideal for windfarms due to proximity to power lines running from Portland to the Latrobe Valley.
But locals claim the proposed projects will hamper farming – particular aerial spraying and spreading – hurt birdlife, create noise, damage the region’s natural beauty and drive residents away.
Dairy farmer Eddie Dwyer, a neighbour of the Macarthur farm, said he initially planned to house turbines for the Willatook windfarm on his property, but changed his mind. “Once the Macarthur ones started making so much noise – we hear it in our house – we told them (Wind Prospect) to bugger off,” Mr Dwyer said.
Willatook farmer Catherine Webster said her farm would be “encircled” by the proposed development. She said she was concerned about noise, density and height of the turbines, making aerial fertiliser spreading and spraying difficult.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s spokesman said “all applications for wind farm permits are thoroughly assessed and put to the community”.
Wind Prospect spokesman Ben Purcell said the company was considering a response to community concerns about noise, but did not respond to questions on aerial farm activities.
An AGL spokesman said the “Macarthur Wind Farm is compliant with all noise limit requirements” but “AGL acknowledges concerns regarding noise is a significant community issue and we will continue to listen to nearby residents”.
Global Power Generation – the company behind the developments at Hawkesdale and nearby Ryan Corner did not respond, while a Moyne shire spokesman said the council was unable to respond by deadline.