Future Energy is developing a three turbine wind farm at Chepstowe, approximately 30 km west of Ballarat, Victoria. The proposed wind farm will produce enough renewable energy annually to power over 3,400 average households.
About the project
This information comes directly from the proponent, Future Energy.
The proposed wind farm will be located on the high ground along Chepstowe‑Pittong Rd between Carngham-Streatham Rd and Mortchup‑Mount Emu Rd. The site for the wind turbines is shown in the map and consists of cleared farming land. The current farming activities will continue unchanged after the wind farm is built and operating.
This site was chosen for the following reasons:
· It receives undisturbed wind flow with strong, consistent wind speeds
· There are large setbacks to nearby dwellings
· It is relatively distant from tourist attractions and major roadways
· The existing land use is grazing and cropping, and therefore there will be minimal impact on flora or fauna
· It is in close proximity to the electrical grid and offers easy site access.
Further information on the specifics of the project can be found here.
Concerns have been raised about possible impacts on Brolga populations in the area. In analysing the risk assessment undertaken by Brett Lane & Associates P/L for Future Energy, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) said that “there is no evidence to suggest that flocks of Brolgas regularly use this site during the flocking season. DSE therefore accepts the conclusion that the risk to flocking Brolgas posed by this development is likely to be very low”.
In their conclusion, they said “DSE is satisfied that the turbine layout proposed in this report is likely to have a very small impact on Brolgas”.
They did note that “there is insufficient detail provided about any proposed new or upgraded powerlines to confirm whether there will be any impacts associated with new or existing powerlines.
You can find their report here.
other benefits of the project
The following comes from Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions Inc (BREAZE):
· The project fits easily within the Liberal Government’s new policy on wind farms. Neville (the land owner) is the only one living within 2km of the turbine locations and Chepstowe is not on the list of “no-go zones” published by the Liberals in May of last year. With setbacks of 2km or more to the nearest home, the project exceeds the setback requirements of current and proposed State Govt Planning Guidelines, as well as the demands of many wind farm opposition groups.
· There is no significant danger to the brolga population in the surrounding area. Neville has been active in the local Brolga Recovery Group and has been working to improve brolga habitat on his property for at least 25 years. Expert studies have demonstrated that the project will have no impact on the local Brolga population, and no impact on other flora and fauna, or cultural heritage. The Dept of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has endorsed these findings.
· Disruptions to native grasslands will be minimal and will be fully offset by the establishment of new grassland on the property.
· The project involves no new substations and all new power lines will be underground – it will connect directly into the existing power line.
· The large setback distances eliminate any noise impact, and dramatically reduce the visual impact of a small project like this. For most locals the turbines will be barely visible behind trees or against the sky, and no night lighting is required
· The project will have no impact on the farming activities of the landowner
· The project will annually abate 22,000 tonnes of CO2 while providing power equivalent to the needs of 3,400 homes.
The story so far
An application for Development Approval was lodged with the Pyrenees Shire Council in February 2010. As the Council had not made a determination within the time prescribed under the Planning and Environment Act 1987, Future Energy then referred the application to VCAT.
In January 2011, the new planning minister, Matthew Guy, announced that he would ‘call in’ the project.
The Victorian Planning Department held hearings in February 2011 on the permit application for the proposed Chepstowe wind farm.
As the first test of the Coalition Government’s new wind farm policy, the outcome of the case will have big implications for other proposed wind farms around the state. A final decision on the proposal by the Minister is expected by March 2011. Please write a letter to the Planning Minister urging him to approve the project.
Please take action
You can find a letter to the Premier and Planning Minister here.
Please also ask your friends to sign the alert.