A proposed Hawkesdale wind farm could restrain nearby future growth unless set back at least five kilometres from the town boundary, a community group says.
It’s a call that Moyne Shire councillors unanimously backed on Tuesday, agreeing to write to the state government to ask it to enforce a new set back distance.
The council has previously backed national wind farm commissioner’s Andrew Dyer’s 2018 recommendation that planners set back wind farms at least five kilometres from town boundaries.
But the state government has told the council it has no plans to change its current minimum one-kilometre set back distance between turbines and existing houses.
Hawkesdale and District Action Committee secretary Frank Huglin told Moyne Shire Council’s July meeting the wind farm’s proposed boundary was 500 metres from the town boundary, with plans showing the nearest turbine 1.6 kilometres away.
“This project (could) directly interfere with the potential of the Hawkesdale township to develop and thrive,” Mr Huglin wrote in a letter.
The government first issued a permit for the site in 2011 and extended it four times, with an expiry date set for August 29 this year.
Cr Jordan Lockett backed the plan to ask for the set back distance.
“One-hundred and eighty metre turbines are very effective for putting power into the grid it’s also a industrialisation of people’s landscape which they have grown up with for many years,” he said.
“Maybe we have to write the letter in capitals this time.”
Meanwhile, councillors also endorsed a one-year noise, bat and bird life report of the Salt Creek Wind Farm, despite Cr Lockett and Cr Jim Doukas seeking to only accept the report until it was released for public critique.
“I haven’t been able to read every detail,” Cr Lockett said, echoing a complaint from other councillors that the report was difficult to understand. “We should have, but there’s a lot in there so I think a bit more time is going to be no harm.”
But Cr Jill Parker said she had read the report and believed the wind farm met its permit conditions.
“They do signify compliance,” she said.
Council documents point out that while Moyne Shire is the responsible authority for enforcing the permit conditions it “does not have the expertise in house to assess technical compliance”.
The council sought the assistance of the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning and SLR Consulting to compile the report.
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