16th May, 2021
by Kyra Gillespie, The Standard
A fight between a small community and a proposed wind farm will reach the Supreme Court of Victoria this month in what residents have dubbed a “David and Goliath battle”.
The People of the Small Town of Hawkesdale Incorporated, an association made up of about 25 community members, filed legal proceedings against Hawkesdale Wind Farm applicant Global Power Generation and state planning minister Richard Wynne in February to have the wind farm’s planning permit revoked.
In court on May 24 and 25 they will argue the planning minister’s decisions to amend GPG’s planning permit in 2017 and extend it in November last year were not valid because GPG was not the “owner or occupier” of the land covered by the permit, in line with the requirements of the Planning and Environment Act.
GPG’s permit would have expired on August 29 last year if not for the extension.
Association member John Bos said there were questions with the legality of the planning permit extensions.
“We put in an injunction to stop works until the court case,” he said.
“We don’t know where the judge will go with it but we’re pretty confident.
“It’s a technicality and they bludgeoned it through and we’re going for it.”
The community fears the development will restrain the town’s future growth unless set back at least five kilometres from the town boundary, with plans showing the nearest turbine 1.6 kilometres away.
The current permit allows for 23 wind turbines, 180 metres in height, with the closest set about one kilometre from the nearest property.
Mr Bos said it was concerning that GPG had not been required to study the social and economic impacts its wind farm would have on the Hawkesdale community as part of its permit application process.
“I’m not anti-wind farms but I am against wind farms that are inappropriately located,” he said.
“At one-or-so kilometres from the nearest town it’s disgusting what they’re doing.
“It will decimate the town because they’re proposing to not allow people to build on land between 1.5 to two kilometres away.
“If you can’t allow a town to build it will become static and people will start to move away.
“It will impact us socially and economically if no-one wants to come into town and invest.
“I’m only speculating but no-one has done a study to see what impact it could have on the town.”
Moyne Shire mayor Daniel Meade said the council had not had any involvement with the court case.
The council has completed independent noise testing at the proposed site, with results expected in the coming weeks.
“We have no involvement in the court and the state government is the issuer of the permit,” Cr Meade said.
“We’d like to see the turbines pushed back further from the township of Hawkesdale for sure and we’ve got concerns about the potential for cumulative impact.
“We wrote an advocacy letter expressing this to Minister Wynne and the company, both with replies saying we were basically too late.”
A spokeswoman from Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s office said it would be inappropriate to comment with the matter before the courts.
Proponent GPG was contacted for comment.