Protect the Macedon Ranges environmental and landscape values!

Protect the Macedon Ranges environmental and landscape values!

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Wind Farm Discussion Group Macedon Ranges started this petition to Hon Richard Wynne MP, Minister for Planning

A wind farm is being proposed for the Macedon Ranges

In recognition of the Macedon Ranges environmental and landscape values, wind farms are not permitted.  In March this year the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme was amended by Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne MP to exclude a specific parcel of land to allow for community development of a renewable energy option that could provide a local alternative energy source.

In May 2015 the Victorian Labour state government halved the setback distance from a dwelling that a turbine could be installed from 2km to 1km.  This change, and the planning scheme amendment noted above, now opens up this site for development. 

Plans are now advancing to install up to eight 3.6 MW turbines and 24,000 solar panels with battery storage and a large substation.  The project has gone from a community owned, and community benefiting renewable energy project to a big corporate project.  The anticipated cost for this scope of project is in the $70M range will now be funded by the banks, and operated by ASX listed Windlab Ltd.. Community ownership is expected to be no more than 15%, with the generated power not consumed locally but directed to the grid.  

This completely contradicts one of the key points the Planning Minister used to justify 'Reasons for Decision to Exercise Power of Intervention' to amend the planning scheme; that a community have the 'opportunity to develop a renewable energy option that could provide a local alternative energy source'.

The Location

The site sits in the pristine Macedon Ranges, wedged into a 2km wide belt of plantation land surrounded by the highly bio-diverse environments of The Wombat State Forest on one side, land with conservation overlay to the north and east and dozens of privately owned residences on the others.

Threat to Local Wildlife

Bird and bat deaths are a known outcome of blade strikes.  The majestic wedge tailed eagles are a daily sighting in the area.  Recent media coverage indicated that bird death counts at the Victorian Macarthur wind farm development was 10 birds per turbine per year, a third of which were eagles and raptors.  Wind turbines not only impact the airspace, turbine noise interrupts the soundscape, disturbing animal communications with acoustical fragmentation resulting in area avoidance and forced relocation of our native ground dwelling animals. 

This development has the potential to significantly disrupt the ecological balance in the area for all native animals.

Health Impacts Attributed to Wind Farms

Health conditions cited in complaints to the National Windfarm Commissioner in the latest annual report include sleep disturbance, headaches, earaches, tinnitus, high blood pressure, sight impairment, chest-tightening, nausea and general fatigue.  Two Australian government commissioned studies are currently underway researching this area of health, results expected 2021.  Flinders University research recently found audible low-frequency noise indoors to a distance of 2.4km of a wind turbine 20% of the time during the day, and 22% at night up to 3.5km away.  There are 44 homes within 2km of the proposed turbine sites, increasing to more than 335 families residing within the 3.5km zone. 

Considering potential health impacts, is this responsible development for such a populated area?

Impact to Locals and Residents

The anticipated cost alone would see restrictions to use of the area.  Fencing of these valuable assets will restrict high use access routes to the Wombat State Forest impacting local residents, nature enthusiasts as well as firefighting access to the surrounding area and residences.  During construction heavy vehicle traffic is expected through this eco sensitive area, post construction ‘wind farm tourist’ traffic bringing an ongoing flow of non-residents through these roads and neighbourhoods not designed for increased and constant traffic.  

We live in a high-risk bushfire area, water bombing aircraft an integral part of rapid fire containment and control. Aerial fire-fighting services operate under visual flight rules, vertical obstructions in the airspace can inhibit their access meaning a fire would need to travel further before aircraft could be used.  For fire safety, most other states are seeking setbacks from dwellings of 1.5km or greater and is the recommendation of the National Wind Farm Commissioner Andrew Dyer. This proposed development has multiple residences less than 1.25km from the turbines and again 44 within a 2km radius.

Why are these guidelines being disregarded here?

Devaluing the Macedon Ranges Landscape Values

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning policy and guidelines identify key areas excluded for wind farm developments in order to protect high quality environmental and landscape locations in the state.  The Macedon ranges is one of the areas identified.

A 3.6MW turbine stands 141 meters from base to tip (hub height of 86m and 55m blade length).  The ridge height of the turbine locations is 650-725m and will see up to 8 turbines sitting in the natural landscape higher and more prominent than Hanging Rock, only second to the height of Mount Macedon.

  • Hanging Rock peak – 718 meters
  • Wind Turbine height – 865 meters
  • Mount Macedon peak – 1,001 meters

This wind farm will not only be highly visible, but will reshape what this landscape and what this area is known for.

 

We need your support here.  The location for this wind farm development has not been well thought through.  The reason provided for amendments to the planning scheme to open the area up for this development clearly contradicts itself.  There will be a significant impact to the local bio-diverse environment and wildlife.  There are no other wind farm developments in Australia this size that are being wedged into the middle of hundreds of residences within such a small radius.

 If you are as concerned as we are please sign this petition.  

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