Concern in the Hawkesdale and surrounding communities is set to escalate with the state government’s decision to approve an increased height of 180 metres for about 170 planned wind turbines for the region.
The increase, which will take the turbines close to the height of Mount Warrnambool (200 metres), is exacerbating angst that wind farms could dominate the landscape in the Hawkesdale, Port Fairy, Macarthur and Willatook areas.
Many residents in the areas are reluctant to speak on the issue because of fears they could cause tensions with neighbours who have agreed to have turbines placed on their farms.
But among the concerns expressed so far are the Hawkesdale wind farm will be too close to the town and that another 98-turbine wind farm with turbines up to 220 metres high proposed for Willatook, west of Hawkesdale, will add more turbines to what will be an already crowded landscape.
The Hawkesdale and Ryan Corner, north of Port Fairy, wind farms will have 26 turbines and 56 turbines respectively, reaching a height of 180 metres. Also approved is another farm at Dundonnell, north east of Mortlake, which will have 88 turbines standing 189 metres high. They will add to the existing 140 turbines at the Macarthur wind farm, west of Hawkesdale.
Moyne Shire Cr Jim Doukas said community divisions over the wind farms were “pitching one neighbour against another”.
The state government was riding roughshod over any community opposition to the wind farms because it was “fully committed to wind farms at any cost”, Cr Doukas said.
He said the south-west was likely to have too many wind farms because they could connect to a high voltage power line that ran near Hawkesdale.
Other high voltage lines should be built elsewhere in Victoria so wind farms could be built over a wider area and reduce their high density in the south-west, Cr Doukas said.
Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell said the state government had ignored the concerns of the Hawkesdale community by approving height increases for the turbines that would “see wind towers as tall as a 60-storey building built within one kilometre of the town boundary”.