Have you seen the Spa Country Landscape Guardians in the newspaper, heard us on the radio, or seen us on the TV? We would love to add any media archives to this page!_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
15 Aug 2007
Wind Farm Proposal Dropped
Energy giant AGL has formally dumped a controversial $140 million wind farm in South Gippsland. The company originally put the 48-turbine Dollar wind farm on hold last October and yesterday confirmed it was pulling out altogether. AGL said the project was less financially attractive than others under consideration. The decision was purely a business one, AGL said. But the Dollar project, near Foster, was strongly opposed by thousands of Gippsland residents who claimed it would blight the coastline. AGL already has planning approval for a separate wind farm, between Macarthur and Hawkesdale in western Victoria, which will be the biggest in the southern hemisphere. Nationals Victorian leader Peter Ryan welcomed the news. "There is community support for wind farms in appropriate locations but not along our pristine coastline where the negative impacts in terms of aesthetics and losses to the tourism industry outweigh the alleged benefits," Mr Ryan said. Mr Ryan called on the government to release the final planning report into the wind farm, which was started more than two years ago. The project would have contributed 79 megawatts to the State Government's target of ten per cent renewable energy by 2016. Energy Minister Peter Batchelor's spokesman Bill Kyriakopoulos said AGL's decision was commercial and the Government remained committed to the target. "There are plenty of wind, solar and hydro projects that have been announced recently that will help us achieve our target," Mr Kyriakopoulos said.
07 Aug 2007
CRG Members Resign
SIX Spa Country Landscape Guardian representatives on Wind Power's Community Reference Group have resigned. The alternative energy company introduced the CRG as a way of addressing community concerns over its plans to develop a wind farm at Stoney Rises near Smeaton. The reference group was made up of six supporters of the project and six landscape guardians who are against the proposal. But the protesters said they have had enough and opted out of the CRG. The six members cited Wind Power Pty Ltd's refusal to answer questions from the outset of the Tuki project. SCLG member Will Elsworth said the CRG didn't work the way the group had hoped. "The residents surrounding the Tuki project have continually opposed the development and Wind Power directors Steve Buckle and Andrew Newbold have refused on many occasions to answer the simplest of questions put to them," Mr Elsworth said. "Wind Power refuses to provide any information regarding the turbine height, capacity, number, and size of the Tuki site to the public." Mr Elsworth criticised the company's decision not to publicise wind readings taken at the proposed site. "Wind speed data from the Tuki test tower is also being refused to be disclosed to the public."In a move that has surprised many, Wind Power has decided now to convene a public meeting for the Stockyard Hill wind farm below Beaufort, most likely as a result of their poor performances at the two meetings held at Smeaton for the Tuki wind farm," Mr Elsworth said. Another guardian, Richard Evans said he was tired of his wind farm questions going unanswered. "How can the whole of Australia have confidence in these projects if the proponents won't release any data on how effective they will be," Mr Evans said. Mr Newbold, a Wind Power director, said he was disappointed with the guardians' decision to quit. He said the company was close to announcing details of the amount of turbines planned and their specifications. "We're in the process of answering all questions and the answers will be posted on our website," Mr Newbold said. "It's all about timing for us - we can't respond to questions coming from emails instantly."We will release the details before the end of the month."
07 Aug 2007
Wind turbines are go
THE controversial Leonards Hill wind farm will go ahead after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal last week gave it the green light after a two-month hearing in Melbourne. Hepburn Shire Council approved Australia's first community wind farm in February despite 18 objections. The objectors took the case to VCAT. The $8 million project also received more than 300 positive submissions. The VCAT report said there would be a significant impact on people involved no matter which outcome was reached and found the proposal had caused community divisions. Melbourne-based company Future Energy is developing the project in partnership with Hepburn Renewable Energy Association. The project will consist of two two-megawatt 68-metre turbines built on a farm on the Ballan-Daylesford Rd that the company said would produce enough energy for more than 2000 homes. Noise from the wind farm will comply with prescribed standards. HREA committee president Per Bernard said: "It's clear from the VCAT decision that Future Energy prepared a very comprehensive application covering all the environmental and amenity issues. "It gives us a lot of confidence that we can continue working together to complete this great community project," he said. Future Energy's managing director David Shapero was delighted with the decision. "We'd like to thank everyone who supported the application. "This project is already an inspiration to communities across Australia and we think it will prove to be the first of many community-owned renewable energy projects.". Mayor David Smith said, while the council understood the objectors' views, under the planning and environment act planning applications had to be determined on their planning merits. "VCAT has confirmed that council's decision to grant a permit was correct," he said. Mr Shapero couldn't put a date on when construction would start. He said: "This is a magnificent milestone but there's a lot of work still to be done before we start the fund raising process." Sustainability Victoria has allocated $975,000 for the wind farm.
01 Aug 2007
Money for Nothing!
Considering the VCAT approval of the wind farm at Leonards Hill has cost the taxpayer potentially $1,000,000 in a grant from Sustainability Victoria. Surely the company who stands to reap the taxpayers dollars should have to provide some evidence of the benefits to the community, no instead of this they just use a estimate cooked up by Sustainability Victoria! no testing, no wind reading, no anything available for the public to make a informed decision on, this is nothing more than a green farce. If our government is to continue in this direction for power generation it is high time some credible data was produced to back up their claims, maybe it doesn’t exist...
24 July 2007
National Rules Required
NATIONAL guidelines need to be set for wind farm development, according to Opposition Planning Minister Matthew Guy. Mr Guy visited the proposed Tuki wind farm site north of Smeaton yesterday where he met with Community Reference Group members. Wind Power wants to build a 19-turbine wind farm at the site, but is yet to lodge a planning application with Hepburn Shire Council. Mr Guy said while the Liberal Party supported wind farms, there was significant community opposition to the proposal. "The Liberal Party is supportive of wind energy in areas with broad community support and not major destruction of environmental or aesthetic grounds," Mr Guy said. "We are talking about a proposal in Spa Country Australia, one of our biggest tourist attractions and this is clearly going to impact on that area - the Minister for Planning needs to consider that." Mr Guy said there needed to be national guidelines set, giving a more consistent approach to wind farms across Australia. A spokesman for the Minister for Planning said the Bracks Government was committed to renewable energy, but aimed to ensure individual wind farms were only approved after taking environmental and tourism concerns into account. Meanwhile, a community meeting last week over the proposal has been labelled a farce by one of its detractors. But some members of the Community Reference Group and Wind Power said there were positive outcomes. Spa Country Landscape Guardians Group spokesman Will Elsworth said the meeting had been a complete farce and many of the questions the group had asked of Wind Power went unanswered. But another reference group member, Rob Talbot, said despite a few "heated" moments people now knew everybody's feelings. Wind Power director Andrew Newbold said he wasn't at the meeting, but from feedback received, there had been positive suggestions from the panel about what needed to be done.
24 July 2007
Mixed Emotions After First Wind farm Meeting
WIND Power Pty Ltd's first Community Reference Group meeting last week was a waste of time, according to committee member and Spa Country Landscape Guardian Will Elsworth. The alternative energy company organised the meeting at Smeaton Bowling Club last Thursday night in an attempt to improve consultation with residents affected by its proposed wind farm at Stoney Rises near Tuki. But Mr Elsworth, who opposes the project, said the meeting was unproductive and Wind Power Pty Ltd wasn't prepared to acknowledge opinions of objectors. "A chairperson was not validly elected as the proponent's communications consultant. David Hawker of Socom, elected himself as chair," he said. Mr Elsworth said minutes weren't recorded and the meeting was not conducted pursuant to standard rules and procedures. "The meeting was more an informal gathering where questions were asked by committee members and they were left unanswered," he said. "As the proponent was not willing to provide any information, one member of the CRG walked out and the meeting was subsequently closed," Mr Elsworth said. However, committee member Rob Talbot said the meeting was worthwhile. He said although people opposed to the wind farm were passionate, besides avoiding the projects altogether they didn't have a sensible alternative to the debate. "I think they're just opposed to the proposal and that's the way they will stay," Mr Talbot said. Mr Talbot spent 20 years on the North Queensland Conservation Council and said he was a neutral member of the CRG. Mr Talbot said Wind Power Pty Ltd had chosen members well. "There seems to be an evenness on the board in terms of where people stand on the proposal," Mr Talbot said. Wind Power Pty Ltd would not confirm the number of turbines it proposed for the Tuki site, or if the development would become part of a larger Clunes to Smeaton proposal.
17 July 2007
Meeting Closed To Public
WIND Power Pty Ltd's first Community Reference Group meeting is closed to the public and the media.The company wants to build a 19-turbine wind farm at Stoney Rises near Tuki and has formed a committee to access community opinions. The CRG will meet tomorrow night at Smeaton Bowling Club but Wind Power, which established the group, has only invited members of the committee. Director Andrew Newbold said the meeting needed to be controlled and orderly and that couldn't be done if it was open to the public. "We need people to feel free to have their say without people shouting at them or preying on every word they say," Mr Newbold said. The meeting will discuss terms of reference for the controversial proposal. A technical adviser will be the only Wind Power representative at the meeting, which will be co-ordinated by an independent consultant. Protest group Spa Country Landscape Guardians spokesperson Richard Evans questioned the proponents' motives for closing the meeting to non-members. "Considering that this proposal will not only effect the local landowners, but the broader Hepburn Shire, it appears that Wind Power has something it wants to hide," he said. Mr Evans also suggested Wind Power had arranged an independent public relations company to run the meeting in an attempt to "smooth over the bumps". Half of the CRG members are members of the Spa Country Landscape Guardians.
Letter to the Editor : Wind Farms Destroy Landscapes 13 July 2007
Thanks to Stewart Masters (The
Courier, July 4), for his attempt to alleviate the fears of all who
would be burdened by the noise from a wind farm. Yes, noise may be a
concern, however the dramatic visual impact to our unique Australian
landscape (as is evident at Smeaton) is more of an issue.
Clearly Mr Masters is not aware of the high landscape values of the
Smeaton district. The volcanic peaks and hills are unique and must
be protected. Further, on his suggestion of reducing power to
residents who oppose wind power, what a highly constructive and
ignorant comment. Let's be serious about this issue. I, like Mr
Masters, am not affected by this proposal. However I choose to
support this community rather than actively divide it. He has the
ability to make rash statements, and clearly stands to lose nothing.
Perhaps if there is nothing constructive to say, silence is a better
virtue. Wind power may be seen as a visible solution to battling
climate change. It is however an extremely inefficient, obtrusive
solution that relies heavily on government subsidies and is
dominated by foreign-owned companies.
Christopher Smart, Jan Juc
Letter to the Editor : Noise from Wind Turbines 13 July 2007
In reply to the
letter by Stewart Masters 4/7/2007, perhaps you could explain why
the contracts issued by wind farm operators at the Black Springs
windfarm in NSW stated that the residents' houses would be located
in a area affected by noise levels above the approved EPA levels?
Perhaps you could also explain why wind companies try to buy off
residents with offers of double-glazed windows etc. and then tell
them they have no right to complain when they go outside and all
they can hear is a constant hum or thump when the wind blows from a
certain direction. To suggest that wind turbines make no noise is
nothing short of scandalous. It's very clear that everywhere these
inefficient monoliths are proposed there is opposition _ you only
have to look to Clarks Hill, Bo Peep and now Smeaton and Lal Lal. If
wind turbines are so great, why hasn't the government got any data
on their efficiency that's available for public viewing? If it wasnt
so serious I'd have to laugh.
RICHARD EVANS, Smeaton
Letter to the Editor :
Community cohesion is not given equal
Thursday, 7 July 2007
was heartened to read of the Black Springs Landscape Guardians vigilance in
stressing to the Minister for Planning the impact the wind farm proposal has
had on the local community. The uncertainty a proposed industrial
development places on a township cannot be underestimated. I also live in a
rural community suffering a similar fate, with 19 wind turbines proposed for
a site just north of our town. The 'opportunity cost' of this proposal is
also being felt in our area; those who were planning to buy in our area
won't; those considering extending or renovating their homes won't. There is
ample anecdotal evidence that if the wind farm proposal proceeds, that some
families will leave and remove their children from the local primary school.
Despite our area's proposal being announced in March this year, our
community has been split through the core. I can only imagine what the
health of the Black Springs community must be, given the duration of this
process and the proponent's second attempt to dampen opposition with a
We are already seeing that wind turbines do not perform to standard. It was recently reported that performance data recorded between 1 June 2006 and 22 June 2006 (inclusive) found the Wonthaggi Wind Farm in Victoria drew from, rather than produced, power for the grid for 16% of the time. The Wonthaggi turbines produced less than 10% of electricity for 56% of the time and between 30% and 50% of electricity for 15% of the time. For 31% of the time, the Wonthaggi turbines produced 5% of electricity. Data recorded revealed that the plant had produced 1159 megawatts of power, which amounted to 19% of installed capacity, despite a 33% capacity factor promised by its proponent, Wind Power Pty Ltd (Leongatha Northern Star: 15 May 2007 p.37). This is the first time performance data has been publicly released, and I am sure will trigger further public scrutiny. At the Toora Wind Farm also in Gippsland, it has been reported that after 5 years, 5 of the 12 turbines are inoperative due to gear problems, and that local jobs promised have never been created. Compensation has been paid to local landowners for noise impacts and homes have been purchased and demolished (ABC Four Corners Internet Forum, Earth, Wind and Fire, 16-17 April 2007, http://www2b.abc.net.au).
I ask anyone who supports wind farm proposals to consider why community cohesion is not given equal standing with unsubstantiated greenhouse gas benefits. Why is one's quality of life so undervalued? Why does the human cost not form part of the 'net gain' equation of wind farm projects? The answer is: we are fooling ourselves if we think wind turbines promote happy, healthy communities and a cleaner environment.
03 July 2007
Letter to the Editor: Where has the sense of community gone?
Michelle Van Gerrevink, Smeaton resident, wrote to The Courier on
June 6 asking the question of whether or not the farming families
adjoining the proposed Tuki wind farm would prefer to live beside a
nuclear power station?No, a nuclear power station is not proposed
nor would it be in such a densly populated area. Perhaps Ms
Gerrevink may feel differently if a 19, 150m-high, humming turbines
were proposed in her back yard. Those who stand to loose nothing are
very quick to criticise those truly affected by this proposal. Why?
Why do people feel they ought to add to the pain and stress of those
people who are actually affected by this proposal.What ever happened
to the country spirit of this community? It appears lost to
outsiders who hold no community spirit, or sense of compassion.
Sadly the Smeaton community I grew up in is no longer.
Brad Evans, Essendon
03 July 2007
THE company behind a proposed wind farm development near Smeaton has selected the members of its Community Reference Group. Announced Sunday, the group of about 10 people will meet and and liaise with Wind Power about community attitudes towards the project. Wind Power is proposing to build 19 turbines near Smeaton and said the CRG will play an important part in its consultation process. Company director Andrew Newbold said half of the people selected on the panel were members of the Spa Country Landscape Guardians Group. The SCLGG has been strongly opposed to the wind farm proposal. "What we are looking for them to do is give us feedback on our project . . . and what the issues of concern are to them and see if we can seek to compromise," Mr Newbold said. "We are approaching this with an open mind and as we have said in the past if the overwhelming majority are against it (the development) we won't proceed, but we don't believe that's the case. "They (the CRG) will decide things like how often they should meet and we will be listening and responding." Mr Newbold said it was hoped the first meeting would be held on July 19 and that public relations company Socom had been employed to independently sit and control the meetings. Spa Country Landscape Guardians Group spokesman Jim Elsworth said the selected members would play a constructive role in the process. "Our people are always open and will make sure they are completely honest and forthright in representing our interests," he said. "We all want the committee to look at the affects this proposal will have on the district and compensation for those who we know will be adversely affected." Wind Power director Andrew Newbold said he anticipated the CRG to make final judgements after six months of meetings, and members would be notified by mail this week.
02 July 2007
Group takes its wind farm worries to King
ANTI-Wind farm campaigners in Smeaton who say local politicians are ignoring them took the chance to raise their concerns with Ballarat MHR Catherine King on the weekend. Members of the Spa Country Landscape Guardians group discussed their opposition to a proposed 19-turbine wind farm to be constructed in the Smeaton area with Ms King in her mobile office on Saturday. Spa Country Landscape Guardians group spokesman Will Elsworth said the group was hoping Ms King would be able to wield some influence on the issue. "We want to see this handled appropriately by Wind Power and we want her (Ms King) to get the local member (for Ripon) Joe Helper to actually do something," he said. Mr Elsworth said Mr Helper was not personally returning calls about their opposition to the proposed wind farm. He said the proposed wind farm had divided the community and caused huge disruptions. "And everything's just ceased in the community," he said. "There's properties on the market that can't be sold." Ms King said there was clearly concern in the local community about Wind Power's proposal. "Certainly the community's not feeling as though its been adequately consulted and I'll certainly contact Wind Power to talk to them about their consultation." "Obviously I'm a supporter of alternative energy, but I have consistently said I don't think local communities should be ridden roughshod over when these sorts of proposals are being put in place." Ms King said no planning application had yet been submitted by Wind Power to either the local council or the State Government and as a federal member she would have no authority on a decision on the proposed wind farm. Ripon MLA Joe Helper said he supported plans for a wind farm in Smeaton and looked forward to the proposal going through the proper planning process. "I thing the guardian group seem to be of the opinion that if somebody disagrees with them they're not engaging with them," he said. "I have met with a number of individuals who oppose it."
Meeting hears of legal threat to stop wind farm
Monday, 4 June 2007. About 100 people attended a community day at Smeaton yesterday to discuss a proposed wind farm for the area. Wind Power wants to erect 19 turbines, and potentially more, just north of the town across four separate properties. A company director, Andrew Newbold, says the meeting discussed letters that have been sent to the property owners by lawyers for some objectors, warning them of possible legal action. But Mr Newbold says the lawyers have failed to identify a course of action. "I think they were concerned. I don't know about the word scared, but I think whenever people receive letters like that by registered mail they have a right to be concerned," he said. "One of the landowners is an 80-year-old lady, so that obviously also has a bearing on it." Opposition to the wind farm is being led by the Spa Country Landscape Guardians group. A group spokesman, Will Elsworth, says opponents are serious about stopping the wind farm and the legal threat is serious. "We'll be looking at our position if the project goes ahead," he said. "We'll be getting all the available advice we can obtain and if action is necessary we will be taking it. It would actually be a test case."The first thing would be the Evans family with noise and visual amenity. It would also concern property loss."
13 June 2007
Proposal causes concern<span style="font-family: Verdana; font-size:14.0pt">
THE president of an anti-wind turbine group has voiced her concerns over a windfarm planned for Stockyard Hill near Beaufort. Jocelyn Mitchell, president of the Western Plains Landscape Guardian Association, said her group had a genuine concern for the valuation of property if the development went ahead. In a letter to the editor in the Stock and Land last week, Ms Mitchell said as an uninvited guest, she attended a meeting at Lake Goldsmith about the proposed windfarm at Stockyard Hill. Ms Mitchell said at the meeting she discovered there were "at least 121 turbines and still more being signed up". "So many people who will be impacted were not invited, and to date, Wind Power has chosen not to respond to some requests for information about the development," Ms Mitchell said. However Wind Power director Andrew Newbold said the landowner meeting was to inform principal stakeholders about which direction to go. He said the company had only just completed signing up landowners to the project, and community consultation had not formally started. "Now that consultation will start and everyone in the community will be invited to those meetings from now on," Mr Newbold said. In response to the 121 turbine figure, Mr Newbold said the company was unsure at this stage as to how many wind turbines were planned for the area. "It's very early to respond to questions, which call for a high level of detail which we simply don't have at the moment," Mr Newbold said. "That information, rest assured, will come out in the community consultation process."
12 June 2007
Wind farm size a big concern, says group
PROPOSED wind farms at Yendon and Elaine would dominate the landscape and reduce property values, a community group has claimed. Spokesman for the Lal Lal and Landscape Elaine Action Group John McMahon expressed concern at the size of both the proposed wind farms and turbines. "It is a very, very large project, (with) up to 79 turbines. It's very big, and these turbines are enormous." Mr McMahon said that up to 600 houses and 1800 residents were located within 5km of the Yendon site. "Most other (projects) wouldn't have created any where near the same effect in terms of people's lifestyles or livelihoods, (and) in terms of the value of their properties." But the company behind the project, WestWind Energy, said both the size and number of turbines were yet to be finalised. "At the moment we haven't lodged a planning application," project manager Grant Flynn said yesterday. "We have come up with an indicative layout, with 50 turbines at the Yendon section and 29 at Elaine. That number could change up or down as our investigations continue," he said. Mr Flynn said the blade tip height of the turbine was also speculative, with the figure of 150 metres, the maximum possible height. "Again, we haven't selected a turbine model at this stage, but we're trying to give people some basic physical dimensions so that they can get an idea of what it is that we're proposing," he said. Mr Flynn said that while a blade tip height of 150 metres was higher than any existing wind farm project, other planned projects in Victoria included turbines that are as big. Mr McMahon said the entire Ballarat community should be concerned about wind farm developments. "We could well end up with a series of wind farms stretching form the Grampians, or further west, right through to almost Bacchus Marsh in the east . . . it would be hard to find some clear countryside around Ballarat."
Wind farm divisions concern Hepburn council
ABC NEWS AUSTRALIA (http://www.abc.net.au/news/)
Hepburn council is worried about fractures developing in the Smeaton community, north of Ballarat, over plans for a wind farm in the region.Wind Power wants to erect at least 19 wind turbines and believes most people in the region are supportive. Opponents say 96 per cent of people are against it. Councillor Bill McClenaghan says the council does not have a view on the project yet, but is concerned about the apparent breakdown of social cohesion. "No, well council has a view on communities that are falling apart, of course we do, and this is an absolute disaster from any municipal point of view," he said. "But we haven't received a planning application about this wind farm yet, and we may not, if it increases in size to the point where it will be taken out of our league and into State Government hands."
Doubt cast on wind farm community reference group plan
ABC NEWS AUSTRALIA (http://www.abc.net.au/news/) Posted
Opponents of a wind farm that is planned for Smeaton believe the company's plans to establish a community reference group is a public relations exercise.Wind Powers wants to erect at least 19 turbines in the area and hopes to lodge its plans by the end of the year.The company says the reference group's aim is to get community input into the number of turbines and where they should go.A spokesman for the Spa Country Landscape Guardians, Will Elsworth, says the group will have no real influence."I can't see how a community reference group can determine that when it's really a planning issue," he said."It comes down to the planning scheme and there's a significant landscape overlay, so the community reference group won't have any determination where the turbines go ... that will be up to the Hepburn Shire Council or the Planning Minister if the scheme goes bigger."
05 June 2007
Common sense must prevail in wind debate
TO WIND farm or not to wind farm? That is the question facing residents of Smeaton at the moment. Melbourne-based firm Wind Power wants to spend more than $48 million to put 19 turbines on four properties at Smeaton. For the landholders involved, the deal is a lucrative one. But not all in the area want to see the project go ahead. Opposition has been as loud as it has been organised. And now, things have turned ugly. Whatever decision is made about the project, the community will take a long time to recover from the wedge that has been driven through it. Neighbours are threatening neighbours with legal action, friends are no longer friends, families are divided and the arguments have reportedly spilled over into the school yard. Calls to this newspaper indicate that, in some cases at least, rationality has been removed from the debate and emotion has taken over. And now we have disturbing allegations of trespassing, criminal damage and assault. The State Government supports wind farming in Victoria, though has chosen to ban turbines along the Great Ocean Rd. As yet, the government has made no official comment on the Smeaton proposal. It must be concerning, however, for the government to see a community like Smeaton on the brink of implosion. Perhaps now is the time for Premier Steve Bracks, local MLA Geoff Howard or the Hepburn Shire Council to step in before the community is destroyed beyond repair. Strong, closeknit communities such as Smeaton are a special places in a world that seems evermore focussed on "what's in it for me". It is to be hoped that both sides of this issue can put animosity aside and work together towards an amicable outcome. Certainly, it won't be an outcome that will please everyone. It may take time to heal the wounds that have been inflicted, but we know it's not too late to do so. Someone, somewhere, needs to show some leadership.
05 June 2007
Newlyn footballers in assault inquiry
AN alleged assault involving a busload of Newlyn footballers and a Smeaton resident is under police investigation. The incident happened after a group of men were seen vandalising a small wind turbine on a Creswick-Newstead Rd property on Sunday night. The turbine was part of a protest against a proposed wind-farm in the area. Residents called police, but the men boarded the bus. The Courier believes a neighbour, Gary Leech, told the bus driver to wait until police arrived but the bus drove off. It is believed Mr Leech then followed the bus until it stopped, where he was assaulted as his eight-year-old son sat in the car. A man who came to help is also believed to have been assaulted. Mr Leech said yesterday he could not comment until he had spoken to police. He had bruising and a sore collar-bone. Creswick Police Sergeant John Cody confirmed an investigation was taking place. Newlyn Football Club president Gary McKinnon said he did not want to comment on the incident."At this stage it wasn't a footy club event, so I won't be saying anything," he said. Davis Bus Service also did not want to comment. Wind Power Ltd has proposed a 19-turbine development in the area. The issue has divided residents, with about 50 people attending a protest on Sunday. Richard Evans, who lives on the property where the footballers damaged the turbine, said protest signs were regularly stolen or vandalised. "It's an absolute disgrace what they've done," he said. "We've had quite a lot of damage and theft of signs out here."
05 June 2007
Alleged victim reports
THE alleged victim of an assault by a busload of Newlyn footballers made a statement to police yesterday. Police are now searching for witnesses to the incident in which a Smeaton man has claimed he was bashed. Gary Leech told police the assault happened after the men allegedly vandalised a small wind turbine on a Creswick-Newstead Rd property. The turbine was part of a protest against a proposed wind farm in the area. Mr Leech has claimed he told the bus driver to wait until police arrived, but the bus drove off. He then followed the bus to the Smeaton Hotel where he said he was assaulted. Creswick Police Sergeant John Cody confirmed he had spoken to the victim. "It's alleged there was an incident between a person, who's made a statement, and a group of men on the bus," he said. "We are, at this stage, investigating that." Newlyn Football Club has declined to comment because the bus trip was not a club event. Wind Power Ltd has proposed a controversial 19-turbine development in the area. About 50 people attended a protest earlier on Sunday. Mr Leech, who is against the plan, said the issue had divided the area. "Out here was peaceful and quiet and now that's been destroyed," he said. Sgt Cody said police would continue talking to witnesses as part of the investigation. He urged anyone who saw the incident to come forward. "We do believe that there were witnesses on the bus, in the hotel and in the area and we'd like to speak to them," he said. Anyone with information can contact Creswick Police on 5345 2220.
05 June 2007
Community meeting stirs up emotions
SPA Country Landscape Gaurdians released hundreds of yellow balloons to protest against the proposed Stoney Rises wind farm at a community meeting in Smeaton on Sunday. About 50 protesters expressed their disapproval of Wind Power Pty Ltd's plan to erect wind turbines. The rally group argued that 96 per cent of residents within a five kilometre radius of the proposed site were opposed to the development. Wind Power Pty Ltd, who initiated the meeting, invited the group to set up a stall at the Smeaton Bowling Club. Protesters confronted the Wind Power Pty Ltd representatives with signs saying "Toss Tuki Turbines". Wind Power Pty Ltd director Andrew Newbold said many community members who were in support of the proposal attended, but weren't as noisy as protesters. Mr Newbold said the day was successful overall apart from when protesters became excessively vocal. "At one point the guardians got fairly rowdy. A lady was forced to take her baby home because of them." He also said another company director, Steve Buckle, had been individually targeted by protesters. "Ten or so guardians circled Steve and started shouting and pointing at him. But he handled it really well," Mr Newbold said. Spa Country Landscape Guardians spokesperson Will Elsworth said the protesters were noisy because the wind company said it would drop the proposal if there was too much disapproval from locals. He said the group wanted the message to be clear. "Again, the majority of people there on Sunday were against the wind farms. It was an overwhelming response," he said. "At the end of the day they (wind companies) are just after a quick buck." Mr Elsworth said Wind Power should have received the anti wind farm message after Sunday's meeting. Wind Power is establishing a community reference committee and Mr Newbold welcomed members of the landscape guardians' to join. "It's great that five of the guardians have put their names down to be on the board. We welcome them," he said.
Meeting hears of legal threat to stop wind farm
ABC NEWS AUSTRALIA (http://www.abc.net.au/news/) Posted
About 100 people attended a community day at Smeaton yesterday to discuss a proposed wind farm for the area.Wind Power wants to erect 19 turbines, and potentially more, just north of the town across four separate properties.A company director, Andrew Newbold, says the meeting discussed letters that have been sent to the property owners by lawyers for some objectors, warning them of possible legal action.But Mr Newbold says the lawyers have failed to identify a course of action."I think they were concerned. I don't know about the word scared, but I think whenever people receive letters like that by registered mail they have a right to be concerned," he said."One of the landowners is an 80-year-old lady, so that obviously also has a bearing on it."Opposition to the wind farm is being led by the Spa Country Landscape Guardians group.A group spokesman, Will Elsworth, says opponents are serious about stopping the wind farm and the legal threat is serious."We'll be looking at our position if the project goes ahead," he said."We'll be getting all the available advice we can obtain and if action is necessary we will be taking it. It would actually be a test case."The first thing would be the Evans family with noise and visual amenity. It would also concern property loss."
04 June 2007
Wind debate balloons
ANGRY anti-wind farm protesters yesterday released yellow balloons to protest against a proposed 19-turbine development north of Smeaton. About 50 protesters turned up at the Smeaton Bowling Club about noon where Wind Power Ltd was holding a community display. The protesters, led by the Spa Country Landscape Guardians Group, also set up an anti-wind farm display in an adjoining area. The protesters, many wearing bright yellow T-shirts with the slogan "No Tuki Turbines" released about 300 balloons outside the bowling club with the message "Toss Tuki Turbines". The balloons also had seed pods attached to draw attention to planting trees as a way of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Spa Country Landscape Guardians Group spokesman Will Elsworth said the proposed wind farm had divided the community. He said a survey by the group showed 96 per cent of people within a 5km radius of the proposed site were against putting wind turbines in the area. "We're being ignored by the Bracks labour government. None of the people wanted this here, it's thrown upon us." Mr Elsworth called on Wind Power to address residents' concerns regarding noise, wellbeing and property values in writing. He said the group was also concerned about the site being partially covered by a significant landscape under the Hepburn Planning Scheme to preserve the districts's volcanic features. Wind Power Pty Ltd Director Andrew Newbold said the company was willing to engage with the community and share details. "This is the first step in the community consultation process," he said of the information session. Mr Newbold described the protesters as a "noisy minority" and said a number of the community were in favour of a wind farm "We're happy to debate on the issues, renewable energy form wind farms have a low, if not negligible, carbon footprint and that's what we're about." He said community feedback was a key ingredient in Wind Power's decision whether to apply for a planning application. "If there's an overwhelming majority of people who don't want it then it will not proceed ... but there are a number of people who do want it." "It's fair to say we need to listen to all members of the community for and against."
02 June 2007
Wind fight turns ugly
SMEATON wind farm opponents could sue their neighbours if a proposal to build 19 turbines in the area goes ahead. The Spa Country Landscape Guardians group hired a Melbourne law firm, Terence F. Grundy, to send letters to landholders who have agreed or intend to have turbines on their properties. In the letter Mr Grundy stated: `My client reserves its rights to pursue you personally for any economic loss and loss of enjoyment of property rights should you grant a lease to the proponent for the purposes of the proposal.' Wind Power, the company behind the Stoney Rises proposal north of Smeaton, has accused the group of hypocrisy. `I think it's extraordinary we get accused of intimidation,' director Andrew Newbold said. `We don't do that sort of thing, we don't write to people via registered post saying that sort of thing. `We have written to the people who received it and assured them we are doing everything in compliance with state and federal regulations and if we are approved there is no legal recourse.' Spa Country Landscape Guardians group spokesman Will Elsworth said the letter was not threatening or intimidating and said objectors were only exercising their right. `It's not threatening. It's only advising we are going to take action in the advent the proposal goes ahead,' he said. Mr Grundy said he was following instructions and his clients were only sticking up for their rights. `They are fighting a corporation that has got a lot of money, they are in business and they are just putting people on notice,' he said. `We are putting people on notice that if they co-operate with these people and go ahead with it we will sue. There is a big difference at law between intimidating or harassing people...so they are aware of what may happen and the consequence of their action.' Robert Jones, owner of the Tuki Trout Farm, said he had received a letter and passed it onto Wind Power. `Everybody is entitled to their opinions on the proposal,' Mr Jones said. `I am supportive and know the need for renewable energy. I think we have got to get our heads together and somebody has to bite the bullet and create these locations whether it's solar, wind or whatever else.' A consultation meeting will be held tomorrow, at the Smeaton Bowling Club from 10am to 3pm.
29 May 2007
WIND Power Pty Ltd will use a consultation meeting at Smeaton to give Hepburn Shire residents a clearer understanding of community reactions to the proposed Tuki wind farm.Director Andrew Newbold said the company had received a lot of support from Hepburn Shire people and so far the proposal had "ticked all the boxes" environmentally. "Part of the community consultation is allowing everyone to be heard, not just the one's making all the noise," he said. Wind Power has invited rally groups to set up their own stalls at the meeting. "Let's have an argument on the facts - not just the emotion of one group of people," Mr Newbold said. The suggestion that a once harmonious Smeaton community was being split into a bickering township was offensive and untrue, according to Smeaton resident Elizabeth Ashman. Ms Ashman said regardless of their views on the proposed Tuki wind farm, the majority of Smeaton residents continued to use common sense and integrity in their dealings with their neighbours, and were not subsumed by the current debate. "Don't get fooled by the emotional rhetoric about the wind farm into thinking Smeaton is `ruined'," she said. "It's simply not true. Smeaton continues to be a friendly community environment," she said. At a Spa Country Landscape Guardians barbecue on Sunday, Richard Evans said the wind farm issue was affecting some parents' choices to enrol their children at other schools away from Smeaton because the wind farm proponents had created division in the school community. Smeaton Primary School principal Phonse Liddle did not want to comment. Mr Evans said he had heard of cases where people at church were not talking to people they had known their whole lives. Former resident Sophie Elsworth said she noticed a change in the community when she returned to Smeaton recently. "It is heartbreaking to see once a harmonious community split into a bickering township," she said. "From the kids at the local primary school arguing over who wants the wind farm and who does not, to the thieves who continue to rip down the placards protesting the development, Smeaton is now a community of unrest." The meeting will be held on Sunday at the Smeaton Bowls Club between 10am and 3pm.
28 May 2007
Debate rages over wind farms
THE debate over a wind farm at Smeaton continued yesterday, with a protest meeting of concerned residents.About 45 people gathered yesterday to show their strong opposition to the proposed turbine project. The group was largely made up of nearby residents and landholders of the Spa Country Landscape Guardians group. The fight is one they claim is tearing their community apart and fracturing friendships. "It seems whenever you get a proposition for them (wind turbines) it causes an outcry in the community. It happened and tore the community apart at Leonards Hill and now it's happening here," Hepburn Shire councillor Bill McClenaghan said. "I'm not against renewable energy, but against inefficient ways of producing it that has negative social affects." However nearby landholder Rob Talbot disagreed. Mr Talbot said he believed the protesters were exaggerating the level of tension in the community. "I haven't encountered any of the animosity people are saying there is. Not in Smeaton, anyway," he said. "I go to the pub, I go to the community clubs and there is no dissention at all." Mr Talbot said he had recently applied to Wind Power to become a community liaison officer and said both parties should be able to find an amicable solution to the problems. "You can move between the two parties and find out what's acceptable to both, and that's what's important," he said.However, others disagree about how useful the turbines will be in the chosen location. "We had 14 days of calm wind in April," resident Leighton Evans said. Mr Evans' property is less than a kilometre from where the turbines could be, and he is against the development on several grounds. "They are going to be 44 storeys high. In some areas in the community people are asking what's wrong with them, but more people should take notice of the people who are directly being effected," he said. Smeaton and Campbelltown are at the centre of the proposed wind farm development by Wind Power that could see 19 turbines across the hills. A community consultation day will be held this Sunday at the Smeaton Bowling Club from 10am until 3pm.
25 May 2007
Tuki wind farm: More turbines possible.
THE number of turbines proposed as part of the Tuki Wind Farm project could increase. Wind Power, the company behind the 19-turbine proposal near Smeaton and Campbelltown, confirmed yesterday it was looking at the Clunes Ullina Rd as a possible location for more. The company's director Andrew Newbold said if the Clunes Ullina Rd was considered a suitable location for more turbines, the turbines would come under the Tuki proposal. However Mr Newbold stressed that if the consultation process showed strong community opposition, the number of turbines could potentially be lower. "There won't be a separate process in that area. It will all be under one umbrella," he said. "The area is being consulted and it's an area of possibility and an area of interest. It will be something that we're responding to the community on. "But we have got to honour the consultation process. It may be less than what's proposed on the website, it may be more. It's really in the hands of the community and as a company we will respect and respond to their wishes." The development has alarmed some members of the Smeaton community behind a campaign to defeat the proposal. The Spa Country Landscape Guardians group said the company was trying to increase the number of turbines by stealth. "It appears the Tuki project is to be abandoned and will be replaced by a larger scheme stretching from Clunes to Smeaton," group spokesman Will Elsworth said. "On face value it looks like the whole Hepburn Shire is going to be turbinised. We have got excellent support and I think with this happening we will get more support. It will galvanise support across the whole Hepburn Shire against this proposal." Mr Newbold said about 16 people had signed up for bus trips to the Challicum Hills Wind Farm as part of its consultation process. The first of two consultation meetings will be held on Sunday, June 3, at the Smeaton Bowling Club between 10am and 3pm. Registrations close today for residents interested in attending the Challicum Hills Wind Farm. People should phone 9830 2700 by 5pm to register their interest.
17 April 2007
Windfarm fight under way
A GROUP of mothers are fearing for their children's well-being as they continue their fight to stop a proposed 19 turbine windfarm near Smeaton.Thea Elsworth, Donna Robertson and Donna Spiller believe the proposed Tuki Wind Farm at Stoney Rises will threaten the lifestyle of their families in Smeaton. Mrs Spiller, who is a mother of five, said the reason young families lived in rural areas was because of the visual beauty, the peaceful serenity and the sense of community. She said these factors were under threat by the proposed windfarm. "We are told that the new turbines aren't as noisy as the old ones, but we don't want to wait and see if that's true. There are a lot of unknown factors and research is still being done into the various health and well-being concerns associated with wind farms and subsonic noise," she said. "I don't want my children to be guinea pigs in this scramble for alternative energy." Mrs Spiller was also concerned about the overlay protection of volcanic cones that surround Smeaton and the social impact of the development. "I know other communities have felt the effects of division that come with windfarms. I don't want that for communities of Hepburn Shire. At the moment I feel the Smeaton community is standing strong together in their opposition to the proposed site, which is wonderful," she said. The Robertsons are among the young families living the closest to the proposed windfarm development site. Mrs Robertson was concerned about the shadow flicker frightening her three children's ponies. She also said her son could not cope with background noise. "He can't handle background noise," she said. "How will he cope with studying. It's a major issue for us." Mrs Elsworth moved to Smeaton from Melbourne and is raising her toddler with another baby on the way. She said she would fight the proposed windfarm all the way. "I came here to get away," she said. The residents believe the 140m height of the turbines will be visible from the Swiss Mountain Hotel in Blampied, Carisbrook, Lexton, Maldon, Bendigo and Newlyn. Wind Power Pty Ltd, the company behind the proposal, said the windfarm would produce enough energy to power 16,000 homes at a cost of $48.5 million. A company spokesman said a community consultation plan was being prepared and would be forwarded to residents at the end of this month. "We will involve the community before we go further," he said.
17 May 2007
Plan to consult residents
THE company behind a push to build a 19-turbine windfarm near Smeaton and Campbelltown has unveiled its community consultation plan to residents. Wind Power's plan has outlined its intention to have two further information sessions for residents, arrange a visit to the Challicum Hills Wind Farm and establish a community reference group to gauge community support or opposition. However, the Spa Country Landscape Guardians group, opposed to the development, said only residents near Clunes had received the letter dated May 7 while the vast majority of people affected were yet to receive any notice of the company's plans. Wind Power director Andrew Newbold said the company was committed to keeping residents informed and the information sessions and community reference group would ensure the process was fair. "We want this to be constructive, open and transparent and we have got nothing to hide and I would hope they participate after the couple of information sessions our consultants will do," he said. "I'm hoping they are coming with an open mind as we are prepared to listen to them." Spa Country Landscape Guardians group spokesman Will Elsworth said opponents remained suspicious of the consultation process, particularly how appointments would be made to the community reference group. "What we have gathered from other experiences is that if we put forward individual nominations (for the reference group) they won't accept it .th.th. they just stack it. "We don't get to see their environmental impact studies .th.th. we have asked them to be open and transparent. People are very upset and distressed." Mr Newbold said the purpose of the consultation plan was to guage community attitudes to the proposal before any planning application was submitted. "This process is to really get to the vast majority of the community and understand what their views are," he said. The first of the two information sessions will be held on Sunday, June 3, at the Smeaton Bowling Club from 10am to 3pm. A visit to the Challicum Hills Wind Farm will also be held on Sunday, June 3. Anyone wishing to attend can register their interest by calling 9830 2700 between 9am and 5pm. Details of the trip will be provided upon registration. Registrations close at 5pm on Friday, May 25.
29 March 2007
Town fears wind farms
HADDON residents fear a wind farm planned for the area will effect health and drop property values. Wind Power has been approaching individual residents for the past three weeks with one farmer already signed up. Bopeep farmer John Fraser, who knocked back the $7000 per turbine per year offer for "as many as would fit" on his property, said he was disappointed with the lack of community consultation. However, Wind Power managing director Steve Buckle said consultation with the broader community at this stage was "absurd". Mr Fraser said Wind Power had contacted him three weeks ago to talk about a proposal to construct about 24, 120m tall, wind turbines on five neighbouring properties. "Wind turbines are new to my family so we had a chat for about 30 minutes but the biggest disappointment was the secrecy involved," he said. "We believe there should have been community consultation before they approached individual landholders." Mr Fraser said he had researched wind farms and believed they caused excessive noise, shadow flicker and would decrease land and home values. "There are too many unknowns," he said. Mr Fraser said Wind Power was offering a 25-year contract with an option to extend for another 25 years. "While you can still run livestock and crop, it becomes an industrial landscape," he said. "And there are people living around here who have bought because they want a country lifestyle." Mr Fraser said he believed only one farmer had already signed up. "But there are so many people who aren't happy," he said. Meanwhile Mr Buckle said Wind Power's process was to approach individual landholders before community consultation. "The idea of going to the broader community when we don't know if the landholders are interested is just absurd," he said. "If nobody wants them, it's not an issue. "If somebody does - there is a fair process we need to go through. "Issues like is there enough wind, are there grid connections, are there environmental issues? "One of those issues is community consultation." Mr Buckle said the Haddon area had been under investigation for "a couple of months", and at this stage he had no idea how many turbines the area could eventually provide.
27 Feb 2007
Turbine proposal for Stoney Rises
A 19-turbine wind farm could be built near Smeaton following an investigation of the local area. Melbourne based company Wind Power is proposing to build a wind farm at Stoney Rises on property at the Tuki Trout Farm. Called Tuki Wind Farm, it will have the capacity to provide electricity to 16,000 homes. A preliminary design has been prepared and Wind Power will hold a community meeting at the Smeaton Bowling Club next Wednesday at 7pm about the project. Wind Power director Vaughan Hulme said the area was excellent for a wind farm. He said the closest house was more than one kilometre from the wind farm. "We need to work with the community so they can consider what it is like to live near," he said. Mr Hulme said the approval of a community owned wind farm at Leonards Hill demonstrated the commitment by many in the community to renewable energy. Mr Hulme said the company had received positive feedback from the landowner. A spokesperson from the Tuki Trout Farm said it was only a proposal at this stage. Wind Power has been involved in a number of wind farm projects across Victoria including six wind turbines at Wonthaggi and wind farms in Lexton and Waubra. It also gained approval for a wind farm at Bald Hills.
16 June 2005
Giant wind farm goes to tiny Waubra
Controversy surrounds the State Government's choice for the $326 million energy project.
A huge 128-turbine wind farm, the second largest in the state after Portland, will be built at Waubra, north-east of Ballarat. The $326 million project, given the go-ahead by the State Government yesterday, has divided the farming community, with a public meeting organised by the wind farm developer last year disrupted by a bomb scare. While landowners are expected to be paid about $7000 a year for each turbine on their property, some fear the wind farms will be noisy, harm birds, ruin the landscape and devalue neighbouring farms. Planning Minister Rob Hulls said an independent panel had found Waubra to be an appropriate location for the 192-megawatt wind farm, despite 23 objections. Mr Hulls said the wind farm would create 150 jobs during construction and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Government has now approved seven wind farms, with farms at Toora, Codrington and Challicum Hills already in operation and construction under way at Wonthaggi and Portland. A controversial wind farm, approved for Bald Hills in South Gippsland, was put on hold after Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell requested more information about the environmental impacts. Energy Industries Minister Theo Theophanous said the Waubra farm would generate enough power for 90,000 homes. "The permit for this new wind farm means we have now issued planning permits for more than 60 per cent of our target of 1000 megawatts of wind energy by 2006," Mr Theophanous said. But Opposition planning spokesman Ted Baillieu said there was strong opposition to the wind farm, which was in a sensitive landscape area. He said many locals were too scared to voice their concerns after the bomb scare last October. Mr. Baillieu said the planning process was so flawed that landowners were secretly contracted to have the turbines on their property long before yesterday's announcement. Rebel Ballarat MP Dianne Hadden, who quit the Labor Party saying it was out of touch with country Victoria, said the issue had divided the community. Wind Power managing director Stephen Buckle said the wind farm would help "drought-proof" farms with extra income. The announcement was welcomed by farmer Steve Molloy, who runs a 800-hectare property at Mount Misery with his brother Glenn. The seven turbines earmarked for their property will prove their most reliable crop, generating a guaranteed $49,000 a year. Mr. Molloy is not worried by the concerns raised by wind-farm opponents. "I reckon they look all right and people say they are noisy but we have had a look at a few and they are not as noisy as I was expecting," he said. But Waubra resident Loretta Edmonston, whose farm will be about a kilometre from a turbine, said she had several concerns, including noise and the impact on the scenery. "Our land is going to plummet in price," she said.
Just tilting at windmills
For all the claims of clean and green, wind farms planned for the Macedon Ranges have divided the community, Melissa Fyfe reports. Winemaker Gordon Knight tells it like it is. Indeed, some of the things he reckons should be done to the "greenies" in the Macedon Ranges are, frankly, unprintable. Not traditionally a fan of some green policies, he now finds himself at odds with local environmentalists on an issue that should be common ground - renewable energy. Wind farms? Bring them on, said Mr Knight, maker of cool-climate riesling and shiraz at Knight's Granite Hills, in the district of Baynton. "It would be a tragedy if they don't have wind turbines around here," he said. "It is a very windy area, and the more they can put in the better." But elsewhere in the Macedon Ranges Shire - Victoria's next frontier for wind farm development - the locals are furious about plans for at least 200 turbines. Emails seen by The Age from residents and anti-wind campaigners this week have spoken of an aggressive campaign. And local Greens representative Marcus Ward said wind turbines were "totally inappropriate" for the southern part of the shire. This is the strange thing about wind farms. Across the state they are dividing not only communities but the green movement. Experts agree that emissions - from sources such as coal - need to be cut by 60 per cent by 2050, and clean energy from wind farms will help. But concerns over landscape change and property values have muddied the issue for some. Mr Ward admitted that wind farms were difficult for the Greens because "as a grassroots party we try to support local communities". But Mr Knight, 67, sees this as hypocritical nimbyism (not-in-my-backyard). "The trouble is they call themselves greenies, but they are not, they are ratbags, extremists," he said. "They have their little bit of God's earth in the bush, and they don't want anyone else to have any." Mr Knight's district of Baynton looks set to be surrounded by wind farms, and many farmers support it. Hydro Tasmania, the Queensland Government-owned Stanwell and the Victorian firm Wind Power have picked sites around the region and nearby. But Wind Power's concentration on Piper's Creek, to the south, is proving to be the most controversial. Opponents say the turbines, more than 100 metres tall, will sit on top of a 70-metre ridge, making them taller than Hanging Rock and visible from there. The company has been at the centre of some bitter battles in coastal South Gippsland, particularly with its Bald Hill farm, approved this week. The community there, which raised $150,000 to fight the proposal, was joined in its opposition by shadow planning spokesman Ted Baillieu, who in State Parliament described wind turbines as "towering triffids". Wind Power and its managing director, Steve Buckle, have been known to have a cavalier attitude to critics. When asked about the community angst in the Macedon Ranges Shire, Mr Buckle suggested to The Age that perhaps the opponents were just "bored". Ararat has embraced its wind farm and Mayor Paul Hooper said another $1 billion worth of investment was at stake if incentives for the renewables industry were not increased. He said the community wanted a "21st century" industry that would attract their young people back to the area. "We don't see the turbines as ugly, we see them as part of our landscape and a reflection of the hanging world we live in."