Editorial: Wind farm projects part of bigger debate

There have been few, if any, projects bigger for the region than the approval this week of around 170 wind turbines worth more than $1 billion.

Early estimates of job creation and flow-on effects to the region’s economy are emerging. At the very least, the projects are a massive boost for the manufacturing and construction sectors, for farmers whose land they are sited on and for the region as a whole via indirect spending and downstream benefits.

It is also good news for the environment. Around 86 per cent of all of Australia’s energy is produced by burning coal or gas. Victoria is particularly reliant on brown coal production and is producing worryingly high levels of greenhouse gases.

So the approval of these projects is great news for the region, for families and for the future of our children.

Right?

Not surprisingly, not everyone agrees. After all, wind farms are hotly debated.

They have been politically vilified, with former Treasurer Joe Hockey saying they were “appalling”, former PM Tony Abbott called them “ugly” and “noisy”. US president Donald Trump says they’re disgusting – particularly when they’re near Scottish golf courses he favours.

They are the target of the Alan Jones-led opposition group Stop These Things. They are blamed for health issues.

It is fair to say Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews disagrees with Hockey, Abbott, Trump et al.

He says wind turbines aren't "eyesores". He says they're job-creating, bill-reducing, energy-generating machines. He says they're beautiful.

Locals seem to agree. Reaction to the announcement on The Standard’s Facebook page has been muted but universally positive.

Local voices who oppose wind farm developments are few. Moyne Shire Cr Jim Doukas says wind farm payments to farmers are “pitching” neighbours against each other. Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell says the state government has ignored the concerns of the community.

The Standard believes its role is to facilitate informed conversations about issues and to help ensure local voices are heard. We intend to cover the wind farm projects as a developing issue and to report all sides of the ensuing debate in detail over coming weeks.