Surf Coast Shire has criticised a lack of community consultation for the Inverleigh Wind Farm in its submission to Planning Minister Richard Wynne on the controversial proposal.
The shire’s submission, presented at a special meeting on Tuesday night, revealed that officers did not believe developers of the wind farm had adequately followed the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning “best practice guidelines” for community engagement.
But the submission highlights the council’s “strategic objective to drive the use of renewable energy” and the need for renewable energy sources to meet the State Government’s goal of 25 per cent renewable energy by 2020.
Mayor David Bell said that while the council recognised and supported the need for renewable energy in Victoria, it had heard a number of concerns from the community.
“Whilst council did not run its own community consultation process to inform its submission, a number of community members have come forward with a range of views, including concerns about local impacts,” Cr Bell said.
“It’s apparent to council, through conversations with community members, and our own observations, that the community engagement on the Inverleigh Wind Farm has not met community expectation, nor has it followed DELWP’s guidelines for engagement.”
Gnarwarre Community Association president Andrew Maschmedt said he was pleased the council had acknowledged a lack of consultation but felt the overall submission was “biased”.
“They mention seven times in their preamble about renewable energy, but not once about the health and well-being of the community surrounding the farm,” he said.
“Council seems to believe if there had been a consultation first they may have been able to get a better acceptance from the community, (but) I don’t think that would have been possible.”
Mr Maschmedt praised the council for coming out to the proposed site and listening to the community’s concerns.
The 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.
The Planning Minister is responsible for making decisions on applications for wind energy facilities.
Information about the wind farm is available at inverleighwindfarm.net.
Submissions are due by August 20 and must quote application number PA1800340.
They can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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