Concern over wind energy zone decision

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Warrnambool City and Moyne Shire councils have expressed concern over a decision to declare a wind farm zone off the coast of Warrnambool and Port Fairy.

The Australian and Victorian governments have declared a 1000sqkm wind energy zone 15km to 20km off the coast that will pave the way for the construction of off-shore wind turbines.  

Warrnambool Mayor Cr Ben Blain and Moyne Shire Mayor Cr Ian Smith said there were too many unresolved questions in relation to the potential impact of the decision on the Warrnambool and Moyne municipalities.

“It’s early days and we’re still reviewing the decision,” Cr Blain said.

“But we have some serious concerns about the impact of the decision.

“Will the turbines be visible from the coast while you’re enjoying a walk along the Promenade or a swim in Lady Bay? 

“While we understand the value of the renewable energy and the employment that will flow from this declaration, we are looking for further explanation as to why the original 5000sqkm zone has contracted to a 1000sqkm zone off the coast of Warrnambool and Port Fairy.”

Cr Smith said he was pleased to see the large number of jobs projected to stem from the project but there was little at this stage to indicate the employment opportunities that would emerge for Warrnambool and Moyne.

“At this stage it appears most of these positions will be based in Portland,” Cr Smith said.

“Given that Portland has the industrial scale port, the smelter and major power transmission infrastructure, we’re keen to understand why the declared zone did not extend further west.

“We also want more details on how the cables and infrastructure will come ashore and how that looks for our beaches and marine environments.”
Cr Blain said the two councils were also looking forward to reading a summary of the community consultation findings along with how the impact on marine life will be managed and needed also to know whether there would be an adverse impact on the tourism industry.

“There will also be seismic testing and we need to know how significant this would be,” Cr Blain said.

“We’re also keen to have a commitment from the Australian Government about placing any associated power lines underground. 

“It’s a delicate issue. We’re in favour of renewable energy and we’re also conscious of not wanting to default to a NIMBY attitude.

“But we do have a number of genuine concerns and questions that remain unanswered and we’ll engage with the Australian and Victorian governments to get the answers our community needs in relation to a decision that has some perplexing elements.”