A packed meeting of angry Mortlake district residents has overwhelming voted against the proposed Mount Fyans wind farm.
Almost 500 people attended the meeting on Monday night at the Mortlake Hall and supported a motion to reject the Moyne Shires’ offer to establish a community engagement committee for the proposed renewable energy source.
“Furthermore, this meeting is totally and absolutely opposed to the development of the Mount Fyans wind farm and directs the Moyne shire councillors and officers to instruct the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne to reject any application by the proponent Woolnorth for the development of the Mount Fyans wind farm at Mortlake,” the motion read.
Feelings were high at the meeting with the danger to the endangered brolgas and impact of the 200-metre tall turbines on firefighting capabilities highlighted as issues.
The meeting was chaired by Moyne shire’s Cr Jim Doukas while three other councillors and other officers attended.
Meeting organisers said Woolnorth representatives were invited to attend, but declined, despite being in the district to meet with Moyne Shire officials on Tuesday.
About 500 submissions were also gathered to present to Mr Wynne against the proposed wind farm.
Mortlake district farmer Lachie Cumming addressed the meeting in relation to the lack of public consultation and secrecy around the proposal.
He labelled it a “proposal by stealth”, and questioning the morality of the neighbour communication agreements presented to adjoining landholders.
Those at the meeting were concerned that Mr Wynne and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) had granted Woolnorth an exemption from preparing an environment effects statement despite being in an environmentally sensitive area.
The meeting was told that was despite DEWLP finding that the reports prepared by Woolnorth were inadequate.
The proposed wind farm covers breeding and nesting sites for the Victorian brolga which is a vulnerable species with less than 600 left in the wild.
Adjacent to the proposed site is a parcel of land covered by a Trust for Nature restrictive covenant.
The proposed turbines are the biggest so far in Australia at 200 metres.
Concerns were also raised that wind farms Australia-wide had been subsidised by government to the tune of billions of dollars with many of the companies foreign owned.
Potential devaluation of both rural and urban properties by up to 40 per cent as a result of wind turbines was also discussed.
The meeting was informed about the current issues with the noise report for the Bald Hills wind farm.
Attendee Geraldine Conheady addressed the meeting about the failure of the State Government to have planning in place to include wind farms proposed throughout the south-west of Victoria.
She said there were no regulations regarding the placement or sharing of transmission lines, that no planning permits were required if the lines were under 220 kva and that lines were placed above ground as it was cheaper.
Mrs Conheady said there was no fixed plan for the decommissioning of either the transmission lines or wind turbines at the end of their lives.
Additionally, if all wind farms between Geelong and Port Fairy proceed, there will be less than 15 kilometres of land without wind turbines, the meeting heard.
Mortlake firefighter and farmer Lisa Parker addressed the meeting on the potentially life-threatening impact of the windfarms, which will reduce the capability of the Country Fire Authority to effectively fight fires from the air.
The Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia’s wind farm policy was quoted as opposing all wind farm developments in areas of agricultural production or elevated bushfire risk as a result of overwhelming safety concerns.
Comment is being sought from Moyne Shire, Mr Wynne and Woolnorth.
A DELWP spokesman said that all wind farm permit applications were thoroughly assessed, including against strict planning and environmental standards, to ensure they do not unreasonably negatively impact the area.
“This includes consideration of other wind farms approved or constructed in the area, and what the impact of any additional wind farm will have,” he said.
“All applications include public notice to ensure locals can have their say on each proposal,” he said.
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