Residents take wind farm fight to Supreme Court
22nd February, 2023
By Adrian Black; http://www.lismorecitynews.com.au
A community group has challenged the approval of a wind farm development in the Latrobe Valley. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)
Wind energy generators are not on trial, lawyers representing a community group opposing a wind farm in coal country say.
Battle lines were drawn on the maps of Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, as residents challenged in the Supreme Court the proximity of the proposed site.
“This isn’t a case where wind energy facilities are on trial,” Strezlecki Community Alliance’s counsel Paul Connor told the court on Thursday.
“They’re important assets for our state in terms of providing renewable energy, but they do have significant offsite impact.”
The community group has challenged former Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne’s decision to approve the development of Delburn Wind Farm.
The infrastructure was to be built by OSMI Australia on a pine plantation near the site of the closed Hazelwood coal-fired power station.
Strezlecki Community Alliance is calling for the planning permit to be reconsidered, citing the local planning scheme, which prevents wind farms being built within five kilometres of Moe, Morwell and Traralgon.
Residents have also expressed safety concerns the 33 turbines could prevent aerial support in the bushfire prone area.
Mr Connor said the community group was open to relocating some of the turbines further from the three towns, which he defined as a regional city under the relevant legislation.
“We say the prohibition is clearly intended to apply to the regional city of Moe, Morwell and Traralgon,” Mr Connor said.
Justice Melinda Richards questioned his reasoning.
“Why do you say it’s obvious that should be read?” Justice Richards asked.
“I just note that there are commas between them, not hyphens.”
Lawyers debated the definitions of urban areas, whether the town of Newborough was included in the planning scheme and what defined the wind farm’s perimeter.
“It’s a residential zoning,” Mr Connor said.
“It’s an urban area. It’s zoned for urban purposes and it forms part of the urban area of Moe, that’s our case.”
Delburn Wind Farm’s counsel Susan Brennan debated the definition of urban areas and the distance from physical infrastructure.
“There’s no relevantly sound urban area within 5km of that impact footprint,” Ms Brennan told the court.
Surveyor Josh Cummins said Moe’s sister-town of Newborough, which is not mentioned in the council planning scheme, fell within the zoning.
“Can we agree that it’s only if you include Newborough … that lot 77 of the project site is within the 5km radius of the mapped township structure plan?” Ms Brennan asked.
“Yes, that is correct,” Mr Cummins said.
The trial continues on Friday.
Australian Associated Press