A group of concerned residents have vowed to fight a proposed new wind farm in south-west Victoria.
Forming the Ecklin-Elingamite-Glenfyne Community Association, around 30 residents have raised concerns about the Mumblin Wind Farm.
The proposed wind farm, around eight kilometres south-west of Cobden, Vic, will consist of up to 10 60-megawatt wind turbine generators. The turbines themselves will be 250 metres in height and will produce enough power for approximately 35,000 homes.
Group spokeswoman Dayle Smithwick said the group was not opposed to wind farms but where it would be located.
She said the proposed location from the intersection of Cobden-Warrnambool Road and Curdies-Leichfield Road across to Walsh’s Road, was an area dedicated to intensive farming and located close to numerous dwellings.
“Climate change is happening and something needs to be done, but this wind farm is in the wrong spot,” Ms Smithwick said.
“It’s a high density farming area and the turbines are too close to homes. The area was hit by the St Patrick’s Day fires and once the turbines go up we will not have any CFA aerial support at all. It’s a big worry for farmers who all relied heavily on helicopters to put that fire out.”
The association has already fronted up more than $20,000 in legal fees to DST Legal principal lawyer Dominica Tannock, who has represented communities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in wind farm disputes.
“These wind turbines that are going in our community are the biggest ones in the Southern Hemisphere,” Ms Smithwick said.
Around 150 community members attended a meeting in Ecklin on the Mumblin Wind Farm last month.
Developer RE Future Pty Ltd has put the project forward, which will connect to the electricity grid via the Cobden Zone Substation.
Project director Severin Staalesen said the site was appropriate.
“This site was chosen for a number of reasons. It has a good wind resource, it has good access to major roads, it’s located in an area dedicated to intensive dairy farming, it’s located away from important infrastructure like airports and telecommunications facilities, and it has good setbacks to dwellings,” Mr Staalesen said.
The company is conducting technical studies that will inform the planning permit application.
The entire development will take up to three years.
To date, the company has had more than 40 meetings with people in the area.
The wind farm will make a number of financial contributions to the area, including a $48,000 annual community fund, a $3000 annual cash payment to all dwellings located within two kilometres of a wind turbine, and more than $100,000 in shire rates each year.
All houses within three kilometres of a turbine will be provided with a $15,000 solar-battery system, and all houses between three and four kilometres with a $6000 solar system.
Mr Staalesen said the wind farm would look to use local quarries, transport companies, and construction contractors during construction and create jobs through ongoing wind turbine maintenance.
“As with all our wind farm projects, we started the consultation process at this wind farm by sending an information pamphlet to everyone living within five kilometres of the project which contains an overview of the project, our contact details, and an offer to visit anyone who wants to talk to us,” Mr Staalesen said.
“We’ll continue to make ourselves available to anyone who wants to ask us questions about the project.
“During our consultation visits some local residents have raised concerns about flora and fauna, bushfire risks, noise emissions, and impacts to aerial spraying. We understand these concerns and we will address them all in the planning permit application, which we’ll make publicly available at the appropriate time in the planning process.”
He said five days was not enough notice to attend the community wind farm meeting and repeat offers had been made to brief Corangamite Shire Council.
“We’ve let the organisers know we’re always available to visit them in person to discuss any questions or concerns they have.”
Polwarth MP Richard Riordan expressed concern the state’s energy grid would be at maximum capacity by the time the wind farm was built: “There’s no capacity left in our lines, our area is chock-a-block,” he said.
Before development the company would need to show there was enough capacity in the local network for the wind farm.
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