A PROPOSED 220-turbine wind farm three kilometres outside Penshurst caused heated debate at Moyne Shire Council this week.
Project objector Keith Staff, of Penshurst, made an angry submission to council on Tuesday afternoon, claiming the wind farm was too close to the community.
Mr Staff, who fronts a group of objectors called Southern Grampians Landscape Guardians, warned the Penshurst project would dwarf the southern hemisphere’s largest wind farm at nearby Macarthur.
Little more than three kilometres would separate the wind farms if the Penshurst project goes ahead.
Mr Staff slammed his fist on the table during the meeting and warned councillors the project would amount to “environmental vandalism”.
“It’s a simple land grab. The proposal will destroy the lives of many farmers,” Mr Staff said.
The proposed $1 billion project being carried out by RES Australia is still undergoing an environmental effects statement (EES) under the orders of state planning minister Matthew Guy.
RES project manager Simon Kerrison said a number of masts had been installed last month to measure bat numbers in the area.
“The EES is running concurrently with the planning permit application and will be submitted some time at the end of this year,” Mr Kerrison said.
He said a public forum would likely take place in Penshurst in June or July.
The company hopes to begin construction by 2016.
But Mr Staff told Moyne Shire councillors the project was too close to the Macarthur wind farm, which drew applause from a dozen locals gathered in the council chambers.
But some councillors remained unconvinced.
Cr Colin Ryan told Mr Staff there was no scientific evidence backing up health problems caused by turbines and he had an open mind about wind farms.
Cr Ryan suggested Mr Staff could be spreading wind farm hysteria by the “nocebo effect”. The nocebo effect describes how negative thoughts can harm your health.
“There are reports from all over the world … these are not scare tactics, these are facts,” Mr Staff replied.
Cr Ralph Leutton added his support for wind energy.
If built, the wind farm will occupy land in Moyne and Southern Grampians Shires.