On November 16, BEAM-Mitchell Environment Group and Yes 2 Renewables will present an Energy Futures Forum in Seymour. The event is already sparking interest in the region which is the site of the proposed Cherry Tree Range wind farm.
What is it like living near a wind farm? Do wind farms strengthen local economies and build resilient communities? These questions are on the minds of community members as they consider the region’s first wind farm.
We could think of no one better to explore these issues than long-serving councillor Gwenda Allgood. Here’s a taste of what Gwenda will cover at the Energy Futures Forum. Original article published by BEAM.
Seymour will get a chance to hear how the Ararat community has lived happily with wind farms for the last ten years.
Gwenda Allgood, a councillor of the Ararat Rural City Council, will present her district’s experience of the Challicum Hills wind farm, at the Energy Futures Forum in Seymour on November 16. Pacific Hydro’s Challicum Hills wind farm, consisting of 35 x 1.5 megawatt turbines, was Australia’s largest wind farm when first built in 2003. Cr Allgood held the position of Mayor at the time when the Challicum Hills wind farm was first proposed.
“There was strong community support for the wind farm from the outset,” Cr Allgood said, “with no opposition to the proposal, and the residents have embraced it as ‘their’ wind farm.”
The project has been regarded as a great example of what can be achieved when the private sector, local businesses and community members work together to produce a positive outcome.
The wind farm has created significant employment, investment and tourism opportunities in the Ararat region and has recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. It has also returned more than $380,000 into 151 local community projects that encourage sustainability.
Revegetation programs at Challicum are also helping to protect local biodiversity and improve the habitat of indigenous wildlife.
Cr Allgood, who has been an elected representative of her Shire for over 30 years, including 5 terms as Mayor, was present at the Challicum Hills public consultation meetings with land holders and the meetings with the Local Business Association.
She was also fully involved during the Ararat Rural City Council application and planning process for the wind farm, and is keen to share her experiences with the people of Mitchell Shire and beyond. The Ararat region is leading the way for other regions now investing in clean energy.
So successful has the Challicum Hills project been that wind farm developer Renewable Energy Systems (RES Group) is currently building a 75 tower installation near Ararat, with some of the new turbines sharing an existing boundary.