Woodend group grows push for wind farm

This article is from the Macedon Ranges Weekly. Journalist: Angela Valente

A WOODEND sustainability group is ramping up its campaign for a community-owned wind farm on the town’s southern edge.

Unfazed that state laws disallow any new wind farm projects in the Macedon Ranges, the group says planning laws could change if the residents support the project.

Woodend Integrated Sustainable Energy (WISE) is proposing a three-turbine wind farm on land leased for a pine plantation on Fingerpost Road, just south of Woodend.

The land is leased by the Hancock Timber Resource Group, which has indicated support for the project.

The site is more than 1.3 kilometres from the nearest house.

“We know if the community is behind something, planning laws can be changed and it’s already happened under this government,” group member Barry Mann said.

“We would hope if there is enough community support the government would listen to that. If not, we will have to keep pushing and wait for a change of government.”

A 62-metre-tall wind mast installed on November 7 at the Woodend sawmill, near the plantation, is recording wind data which is streamed on the WISE website. It’s also being displayed in the Woodend newsagency.

“There is a huge potential for wind power in this area,” Mr Mann said.

“We’ve had this tower up for three months now. The electricity that we would have produced to date is worth half a million dollars [and] projected over the year, about $1.6 million.

“The plan is that after the wind farm is paid off, money would be allocated into a community fund and reinvested locally in other sustainability projects.”

Mr Mann said these could include solarising the Woodend pool and installing solar panels on the cricket, bowls and pony clubs’ roofs, which all face north.

The group plans to collate a year’s data and then put together a feasibility report.

It has set up an online survey where residents can express their opinion on the wind project.

Nick McGowan, spokesman for Planning Minister Matthew Guy, said there would be no change to government policy on wind farms.

“We are supportive of wind farms where they have community consent in relation to two-kilometre [buffer] zones, but under our policy it is not appropriate for wind farms in areas like Macedon Ranges, and this remains the case.

“I think people are never wasting their time to have discussions about policy, and that also goes for wind farms. That’s an area which continues to evolve in terms of discussions.

“In terms of current policy, it and the government is here to stay and it will be some years before we have another state election.”

26 thoughts on “Woodend group grows push for wind farm

  1. You’re so inspiring Woodend! We have the same problems on the Bellarine. I don’t know how this Government can call themselves “liberals” when they’re so hellbent on authoritarian rule, and have such disdain for community consultation.

    1. Hey there I am lucky enough to work at mt mercer wind farm if you get a chance drop in to Daylesford to have a listen yourself. I can say that on a totally silent farm that a good wind rushing through the grass is louder than the turbines and if I have my ute at idle I can only hear the turbine blade as it cuts through the air directly overhead seriously it’s nothing.

  2. Hi Anita
    Barry Mann here. The closest residence to WISEs’ preferred site in the Macedon Pine Plantation is 1300 m away. There is abundant research on noise from wind energy generators which indicates that acceptable levels of noise typically occur within 400 m of large (ie > 2MW) generators. If the project gets off the ground, this would need to be confirmed by site specific measurements, which are a necessary part of any planning application. But given the 1300 m distance, we are very confident that noise would not be an issue.
    regards
    Barry

    1. More power to your group Barry, no pun intended. It would be great to see another community owned wind farm up and running. Given it looks as though the state government is not going to overtly support renewables, it looks like the community will need to lead the way yet again.

      1. Hi Anita
        It is located approx 5 km down fingerpost road, and along a logging road called Pile Track,
        approx 400 m to the south where it comes off fingerpost road. If you give me your email address, I can send you a map showing the position exactly

        regards
        Barry

  3. Barry have you got an agreement with the landholder that is 1300m away? By the way Barry how far away are you from the proposed site? Other members of your committee? I think your answers will be revealing.

    1. Peter we have been here before, you have a short memory. As I responded to you previously, we have interviewed (yes we actually talked to them) all residents within the arbitrary 2 km limit and found two objectors – these people live > 1500 m away, but still within the arbitrary 2 km limit. So yes under current rules, we would be buggered, but as I have stated on this forum before, an arbitrary rule will never last the test of time – good rules are objective, science based ones. This goes for anything, not just renewable wind energy generators.

      I live approx 6 km from the site, but would happily live within the previous 1 km limit. Other members of the committee also.

      So what has that revealed to you exactly Peter? I would really like to get to the bottom of your issue with wind energy generators, because like most of your ilk it seems you want to have a bet each way. So some questions for you old son. Is your problem health issues? Is it visual amenity? I suspect the latter because when it really boils down to it, some people just dont like looking at them. Is this a good enough excuse in this day and age? Have you seen one close up? Have you been to the Hepburn Wind site? I suspect probably not. Are you a member of or funded by the Landscape Guardians, that bunch of astro-turfers trying to make people think there is a community groundswell against renewable wind power? Or the AEF, or the Waubra Foundation? or just the liberal party? Come on, give it to us straight, otherwise take your short memory somewhere else.

      cheers Barry

  4. Peter,
    it would be great if you could provide some feedback to Barry.

    You do tend to complain a lot but not actually offer much in the way of positive suggestions.

  5. I think it is quite revealing that you live 6km away and like Blair and Mr Holmes a Court who lives 4km away from turbines you are quite happy for someone else to live closer than you do. I know that you all say that you would quite happily live closer – but talk is cheap and easy to when you know it is not going to happen. Your objection to an arbitrary buffer distance should be taken with this in mind. I am glad that you have talked with neighbours of your proposal as you should – these people live > 1500 m away, but still within the arbitrary 2 km limit and yes you are buggered to use your term. (You were buggered before you put up your monitoring tower with Macedon Ranges being in a no-go zone).

    My main objection to wind turbines are aesthetics and visual amenity and a 2km buffer offers protection on both these grounds. Sound issues, as I have also stated previously, could be an issue for some people and a 2km buffer should also cover that. I have always stated that turbine placement is planning issue and a 2km buffer with negotiation for a closer placement to me ticks a lot of boxes. I personally think that no go zones are not necessary with a 2km safeguard in place.

    To answer your questions’ I am not affiliated with any groups nor paid by any and yes I have seen turbines close-up and my opinion holds. You sound like a bit of a bully Barry with your tone ‘Come on, give it to us straight, otherwise take your short memory somewhere else’ and this attitude seems to be typical of wind farm developers that wish to impose their solutions and will on others.

    regards Peter

    1. Hi Peter
      I am a competitive person by nature but no bully. Your most recent example of the continued impugning of our motives irked me to respond in kind. But according to your last email, it doesnt really matter what I say to you, it just doesnt get through, so there is really no point in continuing this dialogue, in this form at least. Perhaps we’ll meet one day at a wind power-related forum, where we can no doubt debate the pros and cons of small scale, community owned wind energy generation!

      regards
      Barry

      1. Hi Barry I do not think I have impugned your motives at all I think you do want to do your bit for the environment. However I do think I have probably touched a raw nerve because like most wind farm proponents you are actually not going to be living close enough to be impacted upon but you expect others to do so for the greater good. I think the 2km buffer with a negotiated shorter distance or even a buyout of those affected is a good outcome. There is a difference between bullying and competitiveness. I think competitivness involves fairness and the current buffer rules provides some fairness to the issue of wind turbine placement.

    2. @Peter, being verballed by lightweight denialists such as yourself doesn’t add much to the debate.

      It’s true that I would be quite happy to live close by a windfarm but unfortunately the terrain doesn’t make that practicable. I don’t really care whether you believe my comments or not.

      Talk is cheap as you demonstrate on a consistent basis. You claim to be concerned about visual amenity but you are consistently silent on the expansion of coal mines and the development of coal seam gas projects which are not only eyesores but pollute the surrounding environment as well.

      Your double standard is clear for all to see.

      1. If I’m not mistaken Blair this site is about renewables. If you want my opinion on coal mine expansion. I can also give it. By the way I also think the 2km buffer or more should apply to open cut coal mines. PS I dont need to verbal you if I can quote you directly and it is plain for all to see.

      2. Dear all, on a more positive note please check out the article on our web site about the German village which produces more renewable energy than it uses, through a mix of biogas, wind and solar technologies, and creates wealth for the community in the process. It is about the size of Woodend, and is a great example of the vision that WISE has for our town, and community in general.

        link: http://www.wisegroup.org.au/sustainable erngy links/Nov 11_Modus_Wilpoldsreid Bavaria

        regards
        Barry

      3. Gentlemen, can we “play the ball and not the man” as the rather gendered saying from football would have it.

        That also goes for the question as to who lives close to a wind farm. Wind turbines have to be placed where the best wind resources are. There’s no point haranguing people because they aren’t proposing the turbine for their own property.

        And let’s stick to the topic of the post, or go over to the soapbox:
        https://yes2renewables.org/the-soapbox/soapbox-wind-energy/

        And in any case, I’d be very tempted to house swap my inner city rented property for a somewhere within 2km, or even 500m of a wind turbine at Waubra or Cape Bridgewater or Leonards Hill (etc) if anyone’s offering!

  6. Given that the proposed Woodend farm is for the middle of a pine plantation that will sooner or later be clearfelled, leaving a rather ugly bare patch anyway, I really can’t see how aesthetics can be invoked in this case!

    It’s a red herring to chase whether Barry or anyone else lives (or plans to live) within a certain distance of turbines. There’s plenty of people living close up to turbines who like and support them. Calling people out that way is cheap and meaningless.

    Regarding the aesthetics, in general you don’t own the view, as much as you may enjoy it. Councils and governments may impose particular planning restrictions to protect particular areas’ views. The current no-go zones seem to be justified on that basis although they are a ridiculously ham-fisted approach to it (banning areas around Hanging Rock and Mount Macedon for example could be held up by a landscape study; a blanket ban on whole shires and regions is something else).

    But if you want a general principle that you can own your view, you should apply it to other landscape changes: tree removal, erecting grain silos, new farm access roads, mobile phone towers, all those other things that might occur. Alternatively, you could buy all the land in this 2km radius and then you would really, legitimately own your view. Even if it is a clearfelled pine plantation…

  7. Ben it is not a cheap shot, it is a fact most people support wind until it’s in their backyard. I think that the fact that the forest will be clearfelled (and subject to replanting) is an even greater reason for the aesthetics argument a 165m turbine will stand out like the proverbials on the bare hill and the amenity issue will be even greater. I am not saying you own the view and a moving structure 45 storeys tall will still be seen from 2ks as a matter of fact they are quite visible 25ks away however a 2k reduces the imposition. Your argument regarding phone towers which are 20m tall is also a furphy as they have also been opposed by many on the basis of aesthetics and health risks. The Greens of inner Melbourne also oppose suburban high rises on the same grounds of overhadowing and changing the character of their neighbourhood. Again I think a 2km buffer unless negotiated with neighbours is a fair compromise. I recommend you begin negotiation courses guys because the law does allow turbines closer than 2km

    1. Ah Peter no the 2 km buffer is the secondary hurdle – in the first instance we and others across the state have been banned, remember? I think the NSW liberal policy is a good compromise – it does not ban wind power (because the NSW libs recognise that wind power is useful) and it gives those like you Peter (and bailleau) who have a personal amenity-based prejudice against wind turbines, and who are within 2 km, the opportunity to object – in this case there is further evidence-based investigations done within the buffer and which is then decided by an independent panel. It is called the ‘Gateway’ process, and makes much more sense than the Victorian one. When you read the Vic libs talking about ‘other governments are looking at implementing our policy’ as a kind of excuse for their prejudice, it is load of rubbish. There are NO governments anywhere on the planet who are doing what they have done. regards Barry
      PS what do you think about that fantastic Bavarian town, Wilpoldsried? Those germans are bloody marvellous – how did they lose the war?

    2. As much as you wish to deny it Peter, the ridiculous restrictions on wind farms in Victoria are purely for political purposes.
      http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/against-the-wind-20120330-1w40m.html

      You also conveniently ignore the fact that millions of people live around wind farms in Europe without any problems whatsoever, even better, many are community owners of those same wind farms so everybody benefits.

      As for turbines being visible 25 km away, that may be true about 1 day in 10 or 15 but it certainly isn’t a problem at that distance, just do a little trigonometry.

      I sincerely hope the Woodend folks get their wind farm ASAP. More power to them, literally.

      1. Thanks Blair one of these days we will get there, and support like yours keeps us going. Highly subjective planning regimes like the one we have now do not last the test of time.
        cheers Barry

  8. Peter, I’m told that quite a few Axionna employees live close to theWaubra wind farm and apparently the CEO of Hepburn Wind lives less than 1km from their wind farm. None are sick or complaining.

  9. I am confused, where actually will it finally built, not the prefered location, because Barry is saying one place and the reading equipment is in another (the old timber mill) which by the way is only 200m from a few houses. I certainly would not approve of an object like this so close to housing. also why do we have 80m reading when only a 60m mast is being investigated. typical of developers telling us one thing but all along have other ideas in mind. I think they call it “slight of hand” At the timber mill the turbines will be closer than the 2km from us so we will certainly be objecting.

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