Moyne Shire Council to request government funding for Macarthur Wind Farm noise testing
31st January, 2023
By Ben Silvester, The Standard
Moyne Shire councillor Jim Doukas discovered the council had been offered $50,000 in 2019 to perform noise testing at the Macarthur Wind Farm, but never accepted the money. Picture by Anthony Brady
The Moyne Shire Council has decided to write to the state government asking for $50,000, three years after the money was offered.
The sum was proposed as a grant to four Victorian councils, including Moyne Shire, in 2019 by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, to cover the cost of independent noise testing on controversial wind farms.
Moyne was offered the grant to organise testing at the Macarthur Wind Farm, which had attracted a large number of complaints since it started operating.
Cr Jim Doukas raised the issue as a notice of motion at the first council meeting of the year on Tuesday, saying he became aware of the 2019 offer through a document exhibited during the state planning panel for the Willatook Wind Farm, which delivered its final report in mid-January 2023.
“It would appear that at the time Moyne Shire did not take up the grant offer and that this decision was made without consulting councillors,” Cr Doukas said.
The document was an internal DELWP memorandum obtained under freedom of information, confirming the council was offered the money, but didn’t accept it.
“The money was offered,” Cr Doukas said. “The CEO has explained that he can’t find any relevant information on why it was rejected at the time. So what I’m asking for now is to write to the appropriate minister or authority seeking those funds again.”
Cr Doukas said the number of complaints at the Macarthur Wind Farm had “grown enormously” over the years, and he was disappointed the offer had never been brought to the attention of councillors. “We (the councillors) didn’t even know about it at the time… I had no idea about it. I don’t know if any other councillors did.” he said.
“At the time it would have been very handy to have $50,000 and the results of that testing would have given enormous credibility to Macarthur to show it was compliant, and Moyne Shire to show what it needed to do as a responsible authority.”
Cr Damian Gleeson said Cr Doukas’ request was “irregular” and he couldn’t support it.
“Cr Doukas, we know he likes to go fishing… even DELWP themselves were still looking for funding,” he said.
Other councillors disagreed, saying the council had nothing to lose by asking for the money three years down the track.
Cr Daniel Meade said the level of community angst about wind farms was clear. “If there’s an opportunity the state will pay for something that may alleviate some of their concerns then I don’t see massive harm in asking the question,” he said.
Cr Ian Smith said if the council did get the grant it would be “money well spent”. “It’s appropriate that we try to seek the funding and find out where we are at (with noise levels at Macarthur), he said.
“I think we’ve got nothing to lose.”
The motion passed six votes to one.
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