Seymour residents concerned about wind farm project

One of FERA’s wind farms in Santa Luce, Italy. Photo: Paola Meloni.

By Colin MacGillivray

Residents near Seymour have banded together to ensure their voices are heard after plans emerged to build what would be Victoria’s largest wind farm in the area.

The Stock and Land reported in May that Italian company FERA was considering building a 600 megawatt wind farm between Seymour and Ruffy, with suggestions it could feature up to 80 wind turbines 200 meters high.

In response to the reports, residents of the Strathbogie plateaus arranged a meeting with representatives of FERA Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of FERA Srl Italy, in July.

Some landowners in the area said they had been approached by FERA to discuss hosting wind turbines, but plans for the wind farm were not public knowledge until media reports.

More than 80 residents met again in late July to discuss plans among themselves, forming a Strathbogie Tableland Wind Farm Task Force.

Task force spokesman Rob Jamieson, a resident of Ruffy, said the group was generally opposed to the project, concerned about its potential social and environmental impacts.

While FERA officials estimated the wind farm would support between 200 and 250 jobs during construction and 10 to 15 ongoing jobs when complete, Mr Jamieson said residents still had issues with the proposal.

“A major concern…is the impact of this project on the social fabric of the community. There are many examples where the results of similar projects have been socially destructive and divisive,” he said.

“The economics associated with this project are questionable and may well leave this community with a difficult legacy.

“It is important to emphasize that the community was, in general, aware of the need to switch to alternative forms of energy production.

“However, we strongly question the suitability of the location for this very large industrial infrastructure.”

Mr Jamieson dismissed the idea that the group were NIMBYs – an acronym for not in my back yard – but felt compelled to protect an area which was ‘culturally significant, ecologically sensitive, ecologically diverse and a pristine location’ .

He said the location was attractive to FERA because of its elevation and wind profile, proximity to major transmission power lines and larger land holdings.

He said FERA was eager to work with the community on the project, suggesting the creation of a community benevolent fund that could support local infrastructure projects such as cell towers, CFA stations, schools. and other community facilities.

Landowners who agreed to host turbines on their properties would be offered an annual dollar amount or a percentage of the electricity produced, whichever was greater.

The website of Australian energy market operator AEMO has presented a proposal for a Seymour wind farm operated by FERA Australia with a capacity to generate 600 megawatts, but the Department of Environment, Lands, Water and Planning, DELPW, and the Mitchell Shire Council said they had not received planning applications for the construction of a wind farm in the area.

Mr Jamieson said the project was in its preliminary stages as FERA had consulted with landowners.

He said FERA representatives had told him that they planned to install wind monitoring equipment to assess the feasibility of a wind farm in late 2022 or early 2023, with planning and detailed design work expected to take place. take place between 2023 and 2025.

The first estimate for the start of construction of the wind farm was 2025, with the farm expected to take two years to build.

The journal asked FERA for comment but received no response by yesterday’s print deadline.


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