A group of Gnarwarre residents have banded together to stand against a proposed wind farm they say has the potential to “ruin lives and livelihoods” if allowed to go ahead.
The proposed Inverleigh Wind Farm – proposed for a site at Mount Pollock – is a $200 million project that includes up to 16 wind turbines, 22 megawatts of solar and about 12MW of battery storage.
It is a high-scale project residents say they first learned about three months ago – in an article in the Geelong Advertiser. And many fear the proposal will render their land useless and unsellable.
Gnarwarre Community Association president Andrew Maschmedt built the Gnarwarre Airfield – which is used by the Sports Aircraft Association, Antique Aircraft Association of Australia and the local community – on his property two years ago before the wind proposal was again put forward.
He said if the farm went ahead it would force him to close the airstrip as wind shear and turbulence caused by the close-proximity turbines made the airfield unsafe.
Mr Maschmedt has put plans to build his own home on the property on hold until the future of the farm becomes clear.
“We just want to get across that people are going to be affected by this and not just that people don’t want it in there backyard,” he said.
“There’s going to be a really big financial problem for people, especially people that live close and are about to retire whose properties will effectively be made worthless.”
The project is a revival of a previous wind farm proposal at the same site, which was granted a planning permission granted by the Surf Coast Shire in 2008 and upheld by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2009.
For neighbour Tony Russell, the wind-farm proposal is a nightmare that just won’t go away.
He put his property on the market five months ago and received one offer, which was rescinded when the interested party learned of the farm.
“I asked a couple agents about what it would do to property values and they said, ‘Well, would you buy near one?’ I said, ‘ No’, and they said, ‘ You’ve answered your own question’,” he said.
“When the first planning permit (issued for the original farm) ran out, I thought that was it, I was so relieved.
“If it goes ahead, I’ll never be able to sell.”
One neighbour said if they “had known it would be coming back up again, we would have sold.”
While the proposed site sits on rural land, many properties are “lifestyle farming” blocks – which are too small to produce a full-time income. Current Victorian planning regulations do not allow for planning or building permits to be issued for any land within one kilometre of a wind turbine. That buffer zone for the Inverleigh Wind Farm falls on some of the neighbouring properties, rendering the land useless for building purposes.
Jacqui White and husband Phil Tribe’s 80ha property borders the site of the proposed Mount Pollock project, the turbines within 1.5km of and directly overlooking their household, a home run completely on renewable energy.
“We are not at all opposed to renewable energy, because we live and breathe it, however, the placement of a wind farm in this location is just really flawed,” she said.
“There is a growing and diverse community here, which has grown substantially even since the last wind farm proposal.
“It is just a really inappropriate development when you think of all the people that are going to be living around it.”
Mrs White said no one had made contact with her family or neighbours she had spoken to discuss the proposal.
Developers for the project were contacted but said it was “inappropriate to comment” while the planning permit was on public display.
A petition against the development circulated in the local area has garnered more than 150 signatures.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding