Large transmission lines being built through the Western District are “environmental vandalism”, a Corangamite Shire councillor says.
Cr Helen Durant said the towers’ construction to support the region’s wind farm developments were being built without requirements to consult or share infrastructure.
The Noorat-based councillor said a recent community meeting highlighted concerns around towers, reaching almost 30-metres high, that were being constructed from the Salt Creek Wind Farm at Woorndoo to the Terang power station.
“Those in the meeting voiced their concerns around the impact on the visual amenity of the area, the size and number of transmission lines, their location and the total lack of consultation with adjoining landholders,” she said.
“Also concerns were raised around safety, particularly pertinent given the recent fires.”
Cr Durant said the response from wind farm companies as to why transmission lines were not underground or linked with existing infrastructure was “basically because it was cheaper to build the line to Terang”.
“Currently, there is no requirement for shared infrastructure, which means that the wind farm to be constructed at Mortlake south by Acciona in the next 18 months will construct its own power lines, as will any other wind farm that may be constructed in the future,” she said.
Cr Durant said the lack of consultation showed a “total disregard and contempt for the community”.
“This lack of a plan and co-ordinated approach is resulting in the environmental vandalism that we now see across our landscape from these transmission lines,” she said.
Cr Durant was supported by fellow councillors at their meeting last week to write to the Planning Minister Richard Wynne and the Shadow Planning Minister David Davis to express concern about the lack of long-term planning and co-ordination.
Cr Simon Illingworth said wind farm planning had been taken out of the hands of local councils, and the state government was not thinking enough about the repercussions.
“They scar our landscape, they are so obvious. You can see some of these things for kilometres,” he said.
“I daresay the biggest problem is they can’t be seen from Spring Street, or Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, because a lot of the people who are pushing for wind farms are coming from inside the tram lines and they’re doing it without any thought whatsoever.”
Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan raised the issue in Parliament last week, calling on the Planning Minister to review current requirements, “including the routing options for the line, design, standards compliance, setback distances from residences and consolidation of capacity”.
“If Western District communities are to bear the cost of this state’s drive for renewable energy, then more must be done to ensure considerate and well-managed projects. Massive million-dollar infrastructure cannot be let to just lob on people’s doorsteps without notice, warning or planning,” he said.
In a letter to the editor in Saturday’s The Standard, Terang’s Karen Jeffs and Shane Scally said while they were in favour of renewable energy, they “cannot believe the incompetence of state and federal governments in their planning” for wind farms.
“The Terang, Mortlake and Noorat community have become aware of this with the appearance of 30-metre high towers appearing with minimal or no warning from the Tilt Renewables Company. Acciona and other renewable companies will be adding their own power lines in the future,” they wrote.
“It is not good enough to say we have ticked the box of developing renewable energy by allowing ad hoc private development that is a degradation of the local landscape and people’s living conditions.”
Fellow Terang resident Jennifer Jackson said the transmission towers were creating an “industrial-scale eyesore” in the district.
“There must be a planned, co-ordinated approach to the multiple windfarm development and underground transmission lines,” she wrote.