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Wind Farms and Land Values

Values for rural land can be split into two broad components:



With the power station, tens of millions of dollars of land value would lost in this district. Token compensation from the developer, such as the $65,000 donation from Stanwell Corporation to the Toora community, is no answer.



Social Equity & Justice


The developer's wind energy specialist, Mr White, describes wind towers as a cash crop for participating farmers. Two things are unarguable: (i) the towers will provide participating farmers with levels of income not previously thought possible from their land; and (ii) this will be achieved at the expense of their neighbours and other affected farmers who will suffer a fall in land values and adverse impacts on their living and working conditions. The few will experience great benefits but many will suffer as a result - on grounds of social equity and justice this is totally unacceptable.


There will a number imposts and losses that can't be measured in financial terms. These have been well documented by submitters from this community and others less directly affected. That a development such as this can inflict such disproportionate non-financial and financial burdens on a significant number of people is a major social issue. The developer's submission has ignored the issues of social equity and social justice.


The Tarwin community is close knit community and covers both rural and township areas.  The Panel has seen first hand the fracturing that has occurred in this community. It has already caused major stress within families, and in sporting, volunteer and other community groups. I believe the situation will only worsen if the power station proposal is approved.


I submit that the proposed Power Station would lead directly and indirectly to desecration of one of our most scenic and pristine coastlines. Construction of a 35 storey building would, quite rightly, not be permitted anywhere on or close to the Victorian coastline.  For the same reason, construction of a number of wind towers of similar height along the coast also should not be permitted.  Apart from their confronting visual impact, these industrial towers have other visual impacts such as shadow flicker on the surrounding area, and a glaring 'strobe light' effect that occurs when their massive blades are turning with sunlight on them. The strobe light effect will not only be local. Strobing from the 12 Toora turbines is very visible from Samman Road on Mt Hoddle, a distance of about 20km (despite the paintwork efforts of the manufacturer). Based on this, the effect on Inverloch beaches and residents, situated to the west of the Bald Hills site, will be significant.


More broadly, wind power stations will significantly industrialise the scenic views of the surrounding coastal landscapes. These power stations are also highly problematic for tourism in terms of their potential for expansion and growing cumulative impacts over time.


Proponents claim that wind power stations will themselves be a tourist attraction. Mr Cotterill was more guarded when he stated that 'they are certainly not turning people away in droves, but they are not a major attraction to an area'. He also said they don't encourage revisitation. Mr Cotterill's assessment, like so many of the other expert witnesses, assumed incorrectly that the tourist experience occurs mostly while travelling along main roads in a car.


The visitors centre for Toora Power Station is to close after just one year, reflecting brief initial interest followed by a steady decline. A tour bus company reported quite early a fall off in demand, noting that the novelty factor didn't last long. The visitor centre at Bald Hills would seem likely to have only a short life. Given information presented by Ms Svenson and Ms Wills on the likely negative impact to existing tourism, it seems certain that the power station would be a significant net negative for tourism in the area.


The attractiveness of the Coast to tourists will wane, causing significant social and economic loss to the region




Ms Jackson stated that the wind power station would help maintain viable farming in the area because the seven stakeholder properties would benefit from increased income. She did not recognise or acknowledge the additional costs that will have to be borne by the majority of the farming community to improve the 'viability' of these seven farmers




Every decision to grant a permit for a wind power station creates a precedent, and more likely a number of precedents. The Panel's decision on the Bald Hills Power Station must take account of the precedent that granting a permit might have for power stations proposed but yet to go through the approval process. This decision will be a major determining factor as to the future viewscape and general amenity of this coast from Phillip Island to Cape Liptrap.




Reduced greenhouse gas emissions (but only 40% of those claimed)



Costs of construction

Consumer subsidy (@$40/MWh for 335,000MWh/yr = $13.4m/yr)

Shire rates subsidy to the Power Station

Loss of land value for impacted farmers

Loss of visual amenity including loss of rural amenity

Loss of personal and workplace enjoyment through noise, shadow flicker, living in an industrial environment, etc

Reduced tourism (whether an absolute reduction or reduced growth)





Tribunal had regard to the fact that the landscape was already highly modified and that it could not be regarded as being of "outstanding" natural beauty - as was the case at Cape Bridgewater.  The Tribunal commented:
The wind turbines will change the landscape above Toora.  However, given the substantially altered and not unique character of Silcocks Hill and surrounding places, we find that the visual impact will not be substantially detrimental to its landscape


So it seems that wind generated power has a bright future as a viable form of renewable energy, but at what cost?  Whilst many would argue that renewable energy is necessarily the way of the future, and that the environment will not survive unabated greenhouse gas production, the contribution of wind generated energy in the short term is small beer.  Clearly wind energy cannot replace brown coal.  It can only ever be a part of a wider environmentally sensitive strategy.
Is the damage and potential damage to Victoria's coastal landscapes and the direct amenity impacts on neighbours a fair price to pay?  Many landowners believe the visual impacts will destroy sensitive environments such as Wilsons Promontory forever.  There is genuine concern that wind farm proposals will blight these areas.
An examination of the new planning policies and guidelines reveals that decision makers will still be obliged to have regard to the issues considered so carefully by VCAT in the Cape Bridgewater and Toora proposals and by the Panel and Advisory Committee in the Portland case.  Whilst one anticipates that most of the technical issues can and will be satisfactorily resolved, siting and visual impact issues will continue to turn on a detailed analysis of the sensitivity of the area in question.  One thing however seems clear:  the planning system does not treat wind turbine generators or the prospect of large numbers of them as a planning blight in any sense of that expression.  They are here to stay.  One would expect that they will only be defeated in the most sensitive of locations.