Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Cherry Tree wind farm gets the green light

But have opponents given up the fight?

CHALPAT SONTI December 5, 2013 10:46am

Cherry Tree Range, site of a proposed 16-turbine wind farm in a $100 million development by Infigen Energy.

Infigen Energy has been given approval to build its $100million wind farm on Cherry Tree Range, but opponents say they haven’t yet given up the fight.

A decision handed down by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last week might have appeared to end a two-year battle by Whiteheads Creek and Trawool Valley residents against the 16-turbine project, but they are mulling over whether to take their fight to court.

VCAT senior members Michael Wright and Tony Liston last week overturned the decision of the Mitchell Shire Council, which voted unanimously in October last year to refuse planning approval for the project.

The 14-page decision (along with another 26 of conditions) of VCAT is summarised elsewhere on these pages but it found there was no useful additional evidence since an interim decision in April to change their minds.

Back then they had flagged an approval pending completion of a study in South Australia and a review of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s 2010 public statement.

Those involved in the hearings were granted permission to find evidence relating to the proportion of people living near wind turbines who suffered adverse health effects and whether that proportion diminshed as the distance increased.

In the meantime the Victorian Health Department published a document on wind farms that the available evidence did not support claims infrasound (inaudible low-frequency sound) had harmful effects.

That document and another from the NSW Planning Assessment Commission which also found there was no scientific evidence to link wind farms with health problems weighed heavily with Mr Wright and Mr Liston.

‘‘(I)t is not the role of a planning decision maker to set standards in relation to public health, or to second guess the considered statements of bodies or authorities which are expert in the area and which carry a statutory responsibility for regulating the area,’’ VCAT’s final decision says.

To read more including the response from all sides see this week's Seymour Telegraph.

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