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.”