Hundreds vote against wind farm

Concerns raised: Hundreds of Mortlake and district community members supported a vote opposing the development of the Mount Fyans Wind Farm during a Mortlake and District Wind Farm Action Group meeting on Monday night.

MORTLAKE’S Soldiers Memorial Hall became a sea of red earlier this week, as part of an anti-wind farm push.

Moyne Shire councillor Jim Doukas chaired the Mortlake and District Wind Farm Action Group meeting on Monday night, which saw more than 400 Mortlake and district community members and residents pack out the hall.

Shire mayor Mick Wolfe and acting chief executive officer Kevin Leddin were also in attendance, along with councillors Colin Ryan, Jill Parker and Ian Smith.

The majority of attendees held up a red card to show their support for a vote opposing both the establishment of the Mount Fyans Wind Farm Community Engagement Committee and the development of the project itself.

The Mount Fyans Wind Farm proposal includes 87 wind turbines with a maximum blade tip height of 200 metres, with the wind farm covering 14 properties at a site about five kilometres north of Mortlake.

Moyne Shire mayor Mick Wolfe said the development proponent Woolnorth Wind Farms had advised council it has already lodged a planning permit application with the planning department.

He said council would be putting forward a formal motion at next week’s Ordinary Meeting advocating on behalf of the community to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne.

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

“We have a responsibility here to represent our communities.”

Cr Wolfe said if passed, the motion would add to previous advocacy measures in regards to calls for more stringent regulations around the installation of transmission lines.

“The cumulative impact of multiple wind farms in close proximity to Mortlake has caused a tipping point,” he said.

“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.”

One of a number of speakers at the meeting, Mortlake resident Lachlan Cumming said the group was opposed to the wind farm under all circumstances.

“To the company Woolnorth, we unconditionally do not welcome you,” he said.

Darlington resident Hamish Cumming criticised Mr Wynne for deciding an Environmental Effects Statement was not required for the Mount Fyans Wind Farm project.

“The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) have not done their job,” he said.

Other concerns raised during the meeting included the potential for physical impacts of low-frequency noise on nearby residents, devaluation of nearby properties and limitations on fire fighting capabilities.

Noorat-based resident Geraldine Conheady said DELWP needed to create a more concrete picture of how the rural landscape would look following the construction of a number of proposed wind farms in the south west region.

“DELWP has no master plan for how wind farms will look and no overarching direction in rural Victoria,” she said.

“The footprint is potentially enormous.

“The rural landscape is being industrialised.”

Mrs Conheady said an immediate review was also necessary to evaluate the current system overseeing wind farm developments.

“There are enough wind farms to inform a review,” she said.

“Developers are allowed too much opportunity to wriggle out of their responsibilities.”

Woorndoo resident David Allen, who lives close to the operational Salt Creek Wind Farm, said he held concerns about the amount of noise and visual impacts the development would create.

“We don’t want these machines on our boundaries,” he said.

“Our natural landscape is being destroyed.”

Shire councillor Colin Ryan also supported a review of the current system in order to protect the south west community from the concentration of developments.

“Rural communities are not to be treated as second-class citizens,” he said.

Once the Minister for Planning releases the Mount Fyans Wind Farm planning permit application, submissions would be welcome for at least 14 days.

To make a submission, visit www.planning.vic.gov.au/have-your-say.

What are your thoughts on the Mount Fyans Wind Farm proposal? Do you support or oppose the construction of 87 wind turbines five kilometres away from Mortlake?

Send your thoughts to mortlakedispatch@wdnews.com.au or to Mortlake Dispatch at 124 Manifold Street, Camperdown, VIC, 3260.

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