5 June 2005
Say NO to wind turbines in our area!
MACEDON RANGES SHIRE COUNCIL – DRAFT POLICY ON WIND ENERGY FACILITIES
(WIND ENERGY FACILITIES not WIND FARMS)
Well done to all of you who responded to Council’s request for input into its draft wind facility policy. Fifty-five replies were received by the Council’s planning department, nearly all opposing turbine construction and expressing a range of concerns regarding positioning turbines within this shire. Issues such as noise, visual impact and industrialisation of rural landscape were high on the list of resident’s concerns. At the Council Planning Committee meeting on 20 April 2005, MRLG had a number of speakers requesting Council to amend aspects of its draft policy. Council decided to defer any decision regarding its policy pending a further investigation by a sub-committee of its Planning Committee. There is to be a report back to a full Council meeting later this year. Council is showing signs of being concerned about the visual desecration and industrialisation of our rural landscape along with its detrimental effect on neighbouring landholders resulting from the erection of 125 metre high monsters.
THEY ARE COMING TO SIDONIA! !
MEETING WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF HYDRO TASMANIA
After Windpower Pty Ltd pulled out of the Piper’s Creek area (insufficient wind), the MRLG thought it opportune to discuss with Hydro Tasmania their plans to build a wind energy facility in the Sidonia region.
In mid April, MRLG met with representatives Sandra Williamson (Project Manager for Sidonia Hills) and Richard Mackie (Manager of Interstate Wind Development). They stated that the site encompasses two ridges, one on the Kyneton side of the Sidonia road and the other on another ridge just west of the Baynton road, both stretching towards Baynton. Residents of the Bald Hill area will have a good view of most of the 40 turbines Hydro Tasmania proposes to build.
Woodend, on 30 metre tall pylons, along a route yet to be determined - which raises its own issues such as health concerns, more visual pollution from very large pylons and possible compulsory acquisition of private land for pylon construction.
This planned Sidonia Hills development will be one of the largest wind energy facilities in Australia.
With Windpower Pty Ltd no longer interested in the Piper’s Creek area, some of the “wannabe turbine hosters” have been pleading with Hydro Tasmania to take over their contracts. The Hydro Tasmania reps stated that they are not interested in crossing the Baynton Road towards Piper’s Creek. That certainly does not mean that Pipers Creek is safe – there have been recent expressions of interest by other companies in small wind facilities (under 30 MW). This would then directly involve the local shire council.
THE ROLE OF OUR STATE GOVERNMENT
It is very clear that the Victorian Labor Government is prepared to plough ahead with plans to build wind energy facilities around this state, effectively sidelining adjoining property holders in the process. This is despite a leaked report from an internal key Labor Party committee questioning the cost effectiveness and viability of wind power due to the inconsistency of wind itself. They cautioned against over-investment in wind turbines (Herald Sun 2/5/05).
The State Government has enacted legislation that takes planning control from local government for any wind energy facilities larger than 30MW. As the Sidonia Hills project is 120MW, the Macedon Ranges Council will have no input into the industrialisation and disfigurement of a large swathe of its rural zoned land. Our Council will find itself in the unenviable position of having to pick up the pieces after the government rubber stamps the planning approval. Council will inevitably incur costs from investigating noise complaints and other issues associated with turbine construction in a rural zone. Government planning guidelines for wind energy facilities are woefully inadequate when it comes to providing any protection for adjoining property owners’ rights. The only winners in this are the State Government (green votes and party coffers), the wind energy companies (which are from out of state or overseas), and the few property owners who have rushed to sign up to have turbines built on their properties without any thought for impact on their neighbours. Nor have those property owners considered being the subject of possible future litigation from their aggrieved neighbours. One has to wonder if they even had the forethought to run the contracts they were eager to sign past a solicitor.
The Macedon Ranges image as a great tourist destination will also surely suffer as it becomes the next biggest power generator after the Latrobe Valley.
One has to question why the state government has done nothing to rein in over-consumption of electricity by its citizenry - we all know the benefits from using low energy bulbs for instance. If it were to impose penalties for high energy usage as it has done for water usage, it would begin to be serious about the power crisis. What about the ‘lit up like a Xmas tree’ phenomenon that is Melbourne City every evening?
Breaking News! Demonstration at Parliament House
There will be a state-wide demonstration on the steps of Parliament against the Bracks government at 10:30 Thursday 09 June 2005. Organised by the high Country Cattleman’s Association, it will include people from Coastal Guardians, Landscape Guardians, anti toxic waste dump advocates and others angry with the poor planning decisions and blatant lack of community consultation.
Join us – CONTACT Bruce McGregor 5423 5226 or David Hansen 5423 5215 for details.