Eden wind farm stirs community debate

The Eden Magnet has profiled a group opposing Epuron’s proposed seven-turbine wind farm which they are developing for the South East Fibre Exports site at Twofold Bay. Real Estate agent Fisk & Nagle report on their website:

A growing group of local people are so concerned about the proposed development by EPURON of a mini-wind farm on the South East Fibre Exports (SEFE) site they are ready to fight it. Local builder and Kiah resident Neil Rankin is leading the fray.

Mr Rankin is a founding member of Save Twofold Bay, a not-for-profit community organisation based in Eden whose goal is to maintain the integrity of Twofold Bay as “the jewel in the crown of Australia’s Coastal Wilderness”. Other members include Peter Barber, Ron Doyle, Alan Fraser, Jon Gaul, Rob Bain, Phil Innes, Fritz Michelin, Kari and Tony Esplin and Glen Brunnette.

Their number one issue is to stop development approval of EPURON’s application to Bega Valley Shire Council to build a wind farm on the SEFE site. They are currently preparing to campaign over the peak summer tourist season to achieve that end.

The group is focusing on what they see as the threat to the landscape and views in this prime tourism area. One group member, Kari Esplin, told the Eden Magnet:

“Any profit (these) wind turbines generate will go to big business outside this area,” Mrs Esplin said on Tuesday.

“None of the income earned will remain here. It won’t create any jobs which will cycle money through our local economy.”

Epuron’s Daniel Gilbert responded with a letter to the editor:

Epuron acknowledges that the wind farm will have some impacts in the area, and has gone to great lengths to outline these impacts in its ‘Statement of Environmental Effects’ document presented to council and the community. This includes a full visual impact assessment with photomontages showing what the actual turbines will look like if they are built, including from various locations around Eden. We urge each member of the community to review these documents and form their own view of the likely impacts.

Epuron is aware that some Eden residents may be concerned that “None of the income earned will remain here” or “It won’t create any jobs which will cycle money through our local economy”. The current proposal will involve approximately half the capital cost of building the project to be spent in local civil and electrical works which will require local contractors, all of whom will use local facilities. The operation and maintenance of the project will be carried out by local operators with families living locally. This means the economic benefits of the project are spread widely in the local community.

Save Twofold Bay spokesperson Neil Rankin has invoked the Victorian anti-wind farm legislation:

“It’s just a shocker. It shouldn’t have got this far, and wouldn’t, if proper guidelines, like they have in Victoria, were in place in NSW.”

The Victorian guidelines Mr Rankin makes reference to are amendments (VC78 and VC82) to Victorian Planning Provisions, prohibiting wind energy facilities to be built in locations valued as environmentally valuable and significant tourist destinations. They include the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, Mornington Peninsula, Bellarine Peninsula, Macedon and McHarg Ranges, Bass Coast and the Great Ocean Road region.

In NSW, the situation is less clear.

Premier Barry O’Farrell expressed a personal view on Sydney radio station 2GB back on August 16 that he didn’t want to see any new wind farms approved in New South Wales. At the time he said government planning reforms would ensure community concerns are taken into account when new wind farms are considered as projects.

That position will be well and truly tested in coming months with numerous wind farm proposals going forward for planning approval, including the small one at Eden.

The Magnet also ran our response in the letters, where we concluded

Wind turbines are about the cleanest energy source you can get. Victoria’s draconian legislation should not be emulated.

Wind is an important part of our future energy mix, and it would be good if more communities actively discussed where turbines should and could be located. Don’t let the debate be dominated by naysayers.

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