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‘Biased state government disregarding’ communities on wind farms

The “pro-renewable energy state government”has been urged to consider the proposed Mount Fyans wind farm with an unbiased eye.

Moyne Shire long-serving councillor and former mayor Jim Doukas said that on environmental and planning grounds the Mount Fyans project would never be built.

It’s the fifth proposed wind farm in the Mortlake district as foreign-owned companies scramble to plug into the energy supply grid.

Almost 500 people attended a public meeting on Monday night in Mortlake with the overwhelming majority strongly opposed to the Mount Fyans project.

Cr Doukas said the community opponents had a strong case because they were crystal clear about the facts.

“It was an excellent meeting, very well done and the community needs to be congratulated for its organisation and resolve​. It was a great show of people power​,” he said.

“This state Labor government is pushing wind farms and renewables as hard as they can with a total disregard for the community​.

“You’ve only got to go to a panel hearing to see how bad it is.”

Cr Doukas said he thought the Moyne Shire would support the community, but he could not speak for other councillors.

“A permit application has been lodged. The government will send everyone a note and council will organise a meeting,” he said

“We (council) will speak to people and make a submission.”

The veteran councillor said the company behind the proposal, 75 per cent Chinese-owned Woolnorth, claimed there was only 50 houses within three kilometres of the proposed wind farm.

“I suppose that compared to China we’re very different and we’re classed as very rural,” he said.

“I suppose Woolnorth has a fair bit on their side, but if the government did their job properly it just wouldn’t get built.

“There are lots of environmental concerns. You have the endangered brolgas, as well as eagles and raptors. There are issues about firefighting and planning. Really, you just shouldn’t be able to build it.”

Cr Doukas said there were other far more remote areas in the state, such as the Wimmera, where wind farms wouldn’t annoy anyone.

“​The people who know about wind farms​ say that without subsidies​ wind farms just wouldn’t operate,” he said.

“There are certainly ​other alternatives​. Once they’re up wind farms are hard to turn off or pull down​ and even if they can​’​t operate ​within the ​noise guidelines, nothing happens​.”

C​r Doukas said the community deserved to be heard.

“If Mount Fyans gets built the ramifications are enormous. I would hate to predict what would happen next,” he said.

A Moyne Shire spokesman said councillors and the acting chief executive officer Kevin Leddin attended the Mortlake meeting.

There will be a formal report to next Tuesday’s council meeting.

Council representatives met with officials from Woolnorth on Tuesday and the company confirmed it had lodged a planning permit application with the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne.

Mayor Mick Wolfe said councillors were listening.

“Council has heard residents’ concerns loud and clear regarding this proposal,” he said.

“We have a responsibility here to represent our communities. The cumulative impact of multiple wind farms in close proximity to Mortlake has caused a tipping point.

“It follows on from recent concerns and strong advocacy to the state government by council on the lack of planning and regulation regarding transmission lines.,” he said.

A spokeswoman for state Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the renewable energy industry was supporting more than 2300 jobs and delivering affordable, reliable energy for Victorian households and businesses.

“All wind farm permit applications are thoroughly assessed against strict planning and environmental standards to ensure they do not unreasonably negatively impact the area,” she said.

“We’ve overturned Matthew Guy’s dodgy planning laws that almost killed Victoria’s wind industry,” she said.

The spokeswoman said all wind farm permit applications went through thorough assessments included consideration of other wind farms approved or constructed in the area, and of the impact of additional wind farms.

She said all applications included public notice to ensure locals could have their say on each proposal.

Woolnorth has also again been contacted for comment.