Glenelg Shire Council Seeks Complaints Register For Wind Farms

Credit: Peter Collins, The Standard, 27th March, 2015

GLENELG Shire Council wants a publicly-accessible register established for all complaints against wind farms and an independent authority to enforce compliance of standards.

In its submission to next Monday’s hearing in Portland of a Senate committee, the shire says there is considerable community fatigue and frustration around regulation of the industry.

“Council perceives this and the lack of community confidence in the regulation as a major concern,” shire planning and economic development manager Stephen Kerrigan wrote.

Seventeen of the 140 submissions lodged with the select committee on wind turbines will be heard at the Portland hearing in the TAFE campus on Hurd Street from 8.30am.

Another five local business and community members have also been listed to give evidence.

The committee, chaired by Senator John Madigan of Ballarat, is due to hand down its report by June 24.

Acoustics expert Steven Cooper will be first off the blocks with a summary of his report which found trends linked to sensations reported by residents living near the Cape Bridgewater wind farm.

He will be followed by Pacific Hydro which commissioned him for the landmark study in response to ongoing complaints from residents.

The shire council said it was also concerned about lack of credible information on health impacts of wind farms and suggested the National Health and Medical Research Council undertake an “expedited authoritative study” into the issue.

Mr Kerrigan noted recent work by the Municipal Association of Victoria in brokering an agreement with the Environment Protection Authority for auditors to provide monitoring and compliance services to councils and the wind power industry.

The council highlighted “significant” economic and social benefits from construction and operation of wind farms plus the detrimental effect on jobs caused by uncertainty on the renewable energy target.

About 100 jobs were cut from the workforce at Portland’s Keppel Prince, which was a major manufacturer of wind farm components.

Concern about the state government’s handing back responsibility to councils for issuing, enforcement and compliance of wind farm planning permits will also be aired.

“In closing, Glenelg Shire Council supports policies and processes which promote deployment of renewable energy projects, the attraction of clean energy investment and creation of jobs within the shire without posing undue risk to the health and wellbeing of its residents and ratepayers,” Mr Kerrigan said.

Read the Glenelg Shire Council’s submission to the Senate Inquiry into Wind Farms