Community group shows support for local wind farm in letter to VCAT

Infigen Energy are seeking approval to build 16 wind turbines atop Cherry Tree Hill in Trawool, Victoria.
Infigen Energy are seeking approval to build 16 wind turbines atop Cherry Tree Hill in Trawool, Victoria.

In the lead up to the VCAT’s directions hearing on the Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposed for Trawool in central Victoria, the BEAM Mitchell Environment Group has written to VCAT detailing new evidence which bolsters the case that wind energy is clean and safe (The Weekly Times).

The local group hopes VCAT will make a quick determination about the fate of the Cherry Tree wind farm. BEAM President Richard Telford:

“BEAM has closely followed the progress of the VCAT hearing and are encouraged by the very recent findings of the NSW Planning Assessment Commission,” says

“BEAM Mitchell Environment Group remains supportive of the Cherry Tree Wind Farm proposal. BEAM continues to be of the opinion that the benefits to our community far exceed any potential for negative impact.”

“We believe there are merits to determining an outcome as soon as possible.”

“Members of the community who have been involved in this lengthy process – whether they support or oppose the application – all have invested extensive time, money and emotional energy into the matter. To further prolong the decision would not be of benefit to our community at large, and would impede the need to move on.”

“We feel that the proponent has been put through a series of costly challenges in order to seek approval for this permit; challenges unlikely to be equalled by permit applicants in industries other than wind power.”

“We are seeing that this may come at such a great cost to the companies actually operating in the wind farm sector, that their viability may itself be threatened.”

Friends of the Earth have been closely following the Cherry Tree Range proposal. Yes 2 Renewables has collaborated with BEAM on projects to counter anti-wind farm campaigning in the shire.

The efforts of the BEAM-Mitchell Environment Group shows there’s strong support for clean wind energy in the community.

VCAT recently approved a fast food outlet in the Dandenong Ranges that mostly sells unhealthy food. It would be bizarre if they failed to approve a wind farm that produces clean and safe renewable energy.

More broadly, the trials faced by the Cherry Tree Range wind farm raise questions about adequacy of the Victorian government’s wind farm planning laws. Former Premier Ted Baillieu transferred the decision making power on wind farms from the Department of Planning to local councils.

Academics from the University of Melbourne’s Law School say local government is poorly resourced to deal with wind farms. “Local governments lack the capacity, expertise and resources to adequately assess and make decisions on such applications.”

The Cherry Tree Range case also demonstrates local councils are susceptible to political pressure from anti-wind farm lobbyists intent on killing off or causing maximum disruption to new projects.

The massive delay to approve the Cherry Tree Range wind farm demonstrates that the Victorian government’s planning laws aren’t working. It’s time for Premier Napthine to restore sensible laws for wind farms.

One wonders where local member Cindy McLeish stands on the project given that it will create jobs and generate income for farmers in her electorate. According to Friends of the Earth estimates, the Cherry Tree Range wind farm will:

  • Generate up to $80,000 for a community fund each year.
  • Contribute $76,000 worth of rates to the Mitchell Shire per annum.
  • Inject $1.2 million worth of flow on economic benefit to the local economy.
  • Produce enough electricity to power 26,000 homes and prevent 150,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere each year
  • Provide $250,000 worth of steady income for local wind farmers.

* The VCAT directions hearing will be held on Friday, September 27.

TAKE ACTION
  • Follow the BEAM-Mitchell Environment Group on Facebook.
  • Keep up-to-date with BEAM’s work by following their website.

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