The following comes from the Ballarat Courier.
For further details on the issue please check the ‘Chepstowe’ option under Categories.
Chepstowe wind farm review concerns
GREEN groups are concerned for the future of the wind energy industry in Victoria after a state government hearing into a local farmer’s plan to establish three wind turbines on his property.
A panel hearing into Chepstowe farmer Neville Oddie’s planned turbines concluded in Melbourne on Wednesday after the Planning Minister Matthew Guy called in the development last month.
It is the first project to be assessed under the Baillieu government’s new wind farm policy which includes a requirement for new turbines to be at least two kilometres from any dwelling.
Local group BREAZE has come out in support of Mr Oddie and his turbines saying, “the case presents a much bigger struggle than just the three turbines.”
BREAZE community campaigner Andrew Bray said his organisation feared the case may set a precedent that could see a scaling back of wind energy in regional Victoria.
“The fear then is it will become more expensive to achieve federal government renewable energy targets and towns like ours will miss out on the financial benefits,” Mr Bray said.
Mr Bray said BREAZE was puzzled by the convening of the hearing as the turbines fitted into the existing planning guidelines.
“Every effort has been made to safeguard the environment and minimise disruption to neighbouring properties so we believe he deserves every opportunity to proceed with this visionary plan,” Mr Bray said.
“We are talking about something so small that is no threat to the brolga population in the area.”
He said Mr Oddie was highly respected for his work of the last 25 years to improve the brolga habitat on his property and was the only resident within two kilometres of the proposed turbine.
“I think there is room for Mr Guy to let this permit through and to allow Neville to get his proposal up,” he said.
Mr Guy cited the closeness of turbines to dwellings and environmentally significant locations for calling the proposal in from VCAT.
“This proposal has been called in for determination to provide certainty for the surrounding community,” Mr Guy said at the time.
Greens’ MP Greg Barber, who visited Chepstowe yesterday, said he was convinced the government’s handling of the case was from a “purely political position”.
“It’s so small and so obviously compliant (to existing guidelines); if they knock this one off it seems likely they will oppose wind farms across the board,” Mr Barber said.
Although Mr Oddie has been told he may expect a response from the minister to the report in a month, Mr Barber thinks it could be many months before Mr Guy makes a decision.
“The big question is are they talking about adding a couple of conditions or is it that people (in the government) really don’t want it?” he said.