A convoy of tractors rolled up to a tense meeting between south-west residents and the developers of a wind farm near Cobden on Saturday.
A migration of 15 machines with signs including “No Wind Farms Here” and “No Turbines Near our Homes” journeyed to Ecklin Community Hall where Mumblin Wind Farm proponents were holding drop-in meetings.
The rally was organised by the Ecklin-Elingamite-Glenfyne Community Association Stop Mumblin Wind Farm group.
In a statement, the group said developer RE Future Pty Ltd’s 10 proposed turbines would “impact on existing farming operations, damage the rural lifestyle, threaten swamps and local birds, cause noise and shadow problems and reduce land values”.
Elingamite north dairy farmer Linda Morgan said the group wasn’t against renewable energy but rather the location.
“RE Future set it up for one-on-one consultations but it was an opportunity for us to bring our tractors and show this is agricultural land and we want to protect it,” she said.
“We’ve written to the company and asked questions but had no response, so we’ve come here today to get some answers. This could have been avoided with earlier consultation.”
Project director Severin Staalesen said consultation was thorough and the company had committed to hold another open event in the coming months with Corangamite Shire Council following Saturday’s meeting.
“So far we’ve conducted over 70 face-to-face meetings with people in local area and we’ll continue to meet with anyone who wants to talk to us throughout the entire development process,” he said.
“As with all our wind farm projects, we started the consultation process by sending an information pamphlet to everyone living within five kilometres of the project which contained an overview of the proposed project, our contact details, and an offer to visit anyone who wants to talk to us.
“Following this mail-out we knocked on every door within three kilometres of a proposed wind turbine location and offered to meet with the resident at a time that suited them.
“We then sent a second information pamphlet approximately six months later to every house within five kilometres of the project and once again knocked on every door within three kilometres of a proposed wind turbine location.
“In addition to the two newsletters and 70 face to face meetings, on Saturday 18 June 2022 we held an open day so that local residents could talk directly to company representatives about the wind farm.”
South-west resident Bob Donovan said he was concerned about the proposal’s impact on the environment.
“There are a lot of people living in this area,” Mr Donovan said.
“If the wind farm went further north, there are huge properties and they won’t bother anybody.”
“There are also lakes and swamps with native bird life here; one of the turbines is only one kilometre from Lake Elingamite.”
Farmer Melissa Cardwell also said the proposed site was near the centre of an intensive farming and lifestyle area.
“We don’t know what noise will come from them,” she said.
“It’s going to affect our income, our land values, our sleep, possibly our health.”
Mr Staalesen said he acknowledged community concern.
“We acknowledge that some residents have raised serious concerns about the compatibility of wind energy with dairy farming, however experience both locally and around the world shows that the two land uses are entirely compatible,” he said.
“Wind farms are located in dairy farming regions all over the world, including in Europe and North America, and dairy farming has continued around them without a problem.
“In the local area, there are two wind farms currently operating in dairy farming country (Timboon West Wind Farm and Ferguson Wind Farm in Cooriemungle) and neither wind farm has had any impact on the dairy farming operations that surround them.
“In terms of aerial spraying, the fact is that aerial spraying continues to this day in and around numerous wind farms in Victoria, including at the Mt Mercer Wind Farm where there is a private airstrip used for spraying located within the wind farm itself.
“Moreover, we’ve also made it clear that we’re willing to work with local spraying contractors to ensure they can continue spraying after the wind farm is built, even if that means switching off turbines while they’re spraying in close proximity to the wind farm.”
He said the proposed project with a combined capacity of 60 megawatts would not be expanded due to a limited amount of capacity on the local grid.
If it were to go ahead, he said it would bring benefits to the area including those within the nearby vicinity.
“Each dwelling within three kilometres of a wind turbine will receive a solar-battery system to the value of $15,000, which will make them self-sufficient in terms of electricity,” he said.
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