Archive:  Wind Energy

Last Updated 15/3/12



MRRA Meets With MR Sustainability Group Re Wind Farm In Macedon Pine Plantation

(17/8/11 - E)  A project with some big hurdles to overcome...


MRRA recently met with Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group [MRSG].  Under discussion was the MRSG's proposed wind turbine facility in the pine plantation, near Macedon, south of Woodend. 


While MRSG's published material says up to 6 turbines could be accommodated on the site, apparently the committee has decided to limit the proposal to 3 turbines.


As MRRA understands it, the first step is getting an anemometer up on the site to test wind speed over time.  MRSG had funding for this but it has been suspended because circumstances have changed.  MRSG are now looking for community support for the project to persuade the new State government to make some momentous changes to policy and legislation.


The site selected by MRSG in the pine plantation is on public land, and Hancock Plantations have a 99 year lease from the State government to grow trees on it.  The Plantations Act controls how pine plantations operate, and currently allows the land to only be used to grow trees. Before the MRSG anemometer or a wind turbine facility could go ahead, the Plantations Act would have to be changed to allow other uses in pine plantations. Hancock would also have to agree to sub-lease the land.


Apparently Hancock's were amenable to sub-leasing, but have withdrawn support because of the new State government's 'no-go' policy on wind turbines in the Macedon and McHarg Ranges to protect landscapes and other values.  The government has also introduced new 'rules' and guidelines for wind turbines generally, which introduce higher standards to be met, particularly with regard to proximity of turbines to surrounding houses, and noise. 


It seems then that to even get an anemometer off the ground, MRSG has before it the task of convincing the State government to step back from its 'no-go' turbine policy in Macedon Ranges, and to change an Act of Parliament - both sizeable challenges which apparently played a role in the suspension of MRSG's funding after the change of government.


In addition to the funding, legislative and policy problems, some other matters also arise:

Map:  The approximate location of the site superimposed over the Victorian Wind Atlas map shows it is closer to Macedon than Woodend, and falls outside the 'better' wind areas further north attributed to Woodend.  (Location is based on MRSG site mapping and is approximate)




MRRA Says:


Our sincere thanks to MRSG for their time and the information they were able to provide.  While the Association supports the State government's 'no-go' policy for wind turbine towers in Macedon and McHarg Ranges, we appreciated the opportunity to discuss the merits and constraints of this particular proposal with MRSG. 


Well, there certainly seem to be some hefty problems to overcome, and it must be a worry that there may not be a way to resolve all of them. 


Overall, it's a large project and trying to get our heads around it prompted a lot of questions. For example: 

In response to our concerns over fire we were told turbines are unlikely to start a fire [although they do catch fire].  The worry isn't just the turbines starting fires, but their location: in the pine plantation, next to the Wombat and Black Forests, and residential land use at Macedon - an extremely high fire risk area. 


While there seems to be an obvious expectation of profit from the proposal, it wasn't clear how costs and benefits would be apportioned. For example, what happens if it loses money?  As for what happens if/when the turbines became redundant, we were told the masts and turbines would be taken off site while concrete slabs could be blasted out.


While there seems to be some community support for the proposal (e.g. a 450 signature petition), we wonder how much of this is support for alternative energy generally rather than this specific proposal, and whether other options should be (or should continue to be) supported.  For instance, is it realistic to say Woodend is too cloudy for solar alternative energy when many homes already have it? 


With all of the hurdles to be overcome with this multiple wind turbine project, perhaps a practical approach would be to look at other, simpler, more achievable options as the answer to alternative energy for Woodend.



Big Changes To Wind Farm Decision-Making As New State Government Gives Councils Responsibility

(13/4/11- E)  Amendment VC78 puts people, the environment and significant landscapes back into the decision equation  


The Baillieu government has approved Amendment VC78 (15 March 2011) which changes the way decisions are made about Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria.  Councils are now the Responsible Authority for deciding all wind energy applications, although a Council can ask the Minister to take on the role of decision-maker, and the Minister is also involved where an Environment Effects Statement comes into play. 


Wind energy facilities are excluded from National and State Parks, which includes a significant proportion of coastal areas. There are now also more stringent requirements with regard to significant landscapes, native vegetation and aboriginal cultural heritage. 


New Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development of Wind Energy Facilities (March, 2011) refer to Clause 12.04 of the State Planning Policy Framework in relation to significant landscapes, and this Clause identifies Macedon Ranges as an area of environmental and landscape significance.


Another new requirement is for notice of applications to be given to people living within 2 km of a proposed facility, and for impacts on dwellings within that distance to be taken into consideration in the decision-making process.  The amendment additionally introduces new application requirements, an updated version of the New Zealand wind farm noise standards, as well as the new Policy and Planning Guidelines.  Permit applications can be challenged at VCAT.


You can find out more and obtain copies of documents, including the VC78 amendment documents which change all planning schemes in Victoria, by going to the Department of Planning and Community Development's website:


MRRA Says:


Looking at the Guidelines and other documentation, a suspicion arises that it may take Macedon Ranges Shire Council a little time to get into the swing of this higher level of planning and decision-making (not to mention the EES and federal EPBC Acts).  There are actually standards, along with a distinct lean towards better environmental and community outcomes than those for wind energy facilities to date.  Until now it seemed that the location of these facilities was based upon which property owners wanted them, rather than any attempt to actually find an appropriate location and measure impacts in a meaningful way.  This aspect, and at times substantial impacts, has led to some stiff community opposition to wind energy facilities, not least in Macedon Ranges. 


The DPCD website says: "Amendment VC78 is the first stage of the Government’s implementation of its commitments in relation to wind energy facility development.  Further actions will be progressively implemented as practical measures are developed, including new measures to minimise the effect of wind farms on national and state parks and designated tourist areas and further arrangements to support nearby residents."


The new 'rules' seem to be a change for the better, and give the community more of a voice, so that's a well done to the new State government on this issue, and we look forward to further flagged improvements. 


The variable and uncertainty here is of course the standards of and approach to decision-making by Councils - some are definitely going to be much better at this than others! 



South Australian Experience With Wind Turbines & Fires

(20/11/10 - E)  Seems these fires aren't easy to put out...

MRRA had some (unsolicited) interesting comments come in from someone living on the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia.  The comments relate to a story in our last website update about a wind farm proposal in South Gisborne. Here's what our 'crow-eater' had to say:


Recently wind farms are popping up on the coast here and, more importantly, about 2-3 weeks ago, a sail from one turbine flew off, starting a fire nearby.  This is a very serious threat, especially in fire-prone areas such as ours and yours.  The CFA could not bet close owing to the danger - flying metal, electrical, etc.  Here are some bullet points:

Meanwhile, the Victor Harbor Times has a photograph of the turbine which collapsed last week.  Its violent failure has caused quite a bit of consternation around here because the sails, on fire, once jettisoned by a faulty turbine, can cause fires quite a long way off, not to mention fearsome injuries and death to people and animals.  Until this incident I had not realised, I confess, that the turbines, and sails, carried so much electricity and fuel.  The turbines in question are under the 'Starfish Hill Wind Farm' banner... 


As it happens, while endeavouring a major clean up of my files today, I came across an article from the UK Guardian  entitled 'The menaced landscape' by Robert MacFarlane on Saturday Feb 26, 2005.  It can be accessed by clicking here or going to,3858,5135838-103677,00.html and may be of interest to the people in Gisborne.


MRRA Says:

Many thanks for contacting us.  Great information. Have to confess that starting the email off with an intro about MRRA's 'magnificent website' got our attention pretty fast!!  That's just helped make MRRA's world a better place.  (-:



Draft National Wind Farm Guidelines Out For Public Comment

(19/11/09 - P)  Submissions close December 16 

The (Federal) Environment Protection and Heritage Council has released draft National Wind Farm Guidelines for public feedback. The Guidelines cover all phases of wind farm development, including specific technical components of wind farm development. Submissions are due by close of business Wednesday, 16 December 2009.  For more information go to



State Government Releases Model Permit Conditions For Wind Energy Facilities

(21/2/09 - P)  For guidance only...

You can check out the model conditions by going to DPCD's website

or if that link doesn't work, go to then go to Planning > Planning Permits > Permit Types > Wind Energy Facilities.



UPDATE   Planning Minister Does Say NO To EES For 34 Wind Turbines At Sidonia - Now Confirmed

(13/4/08 - E)  Guess that's a 'screw you, Macedon Ranges'...

We hoped he wouldn't do it, but he did.  And to think that Labor actually promised to protect our State level significance and sensitivity...  Oops!   Again.   Environment +1  v  Environment -1 = Environment 0.



Planning Minister Says No To EES For 34 Wind Turbines At Sidonia?

(7/4/08 - E)   Why?

MRRA has heard a report that the Minister for Planning has decided an EES is not needed to put wind turbines in Macedon Ranges, at Sidonia.  See earlier story (BELOW).  This hasn't yet been confirmed on the Department of Planning and Community Development website.


MRRA Says:


It may not have been officially confirmed but even the thought that an EES may not be considered necessary would be bitterly disappointing.  Why?  Because it would mean the State government isn't recognizing the enormous environmental sensitivity or the State level significance of Macedon Ranges.  It would mean that the government thinks that the need to carefully consider how any development (and particularly a major development) impacts on an area as fragile as Macedon Ranges, isn't important.  The government doesn't think that, does it?



Proposal For 34 Wind Turbines In Sidonia Is Currently With Minister For Planning

(3/3/08 - P)  Plans are quietly being made to devastate some of our important conservation and landscape values - and that's just to transport the wind turbine pieces to their permanent homes!

A proposal for 34 wind turbines, officially in Sidonia, was referred to the Minister for Planning, Justin Madden, by Roaring Forties on 15 January, 2008.  The proposal is now being assessed as to whether it requires an Environment Effects Statement.  The government's track record on requiring an EES for turbines is not encouraging.  As shown on the Department of Primary Industries website, of six projects listed as 'referred to Minister re EES', five have already been deemed to not need an EES. Macedon Ranges is waiting for a response.  


Referred to Minister for Planning for a Decision on the Need for an EES - Permit Application Yet to be Lodged with Minister


Proposal Proponent Number of generators Maximum power (MW) Location Decision
Ararat Wind Farm RES Australia Pty Ltd 50 150 Inland
(7km NE of Ararat)
EES not required
Berrybank Wind Farm TME Australia 100 255 Inland
(60km E of Mortlake)
(Golden Plains / Corangamite
EES not required
Darlington Wind Farm TME Australia 150 450 Inland
(5km E of Mortlake)
EES not required
Lal Lal West Wind Energy 70 140 South of Ballarat
(Moorabool Shire)
EES not required
Mortlake Acciona 100 300 Mortlake
(Moyne Shire)
EES not required
Sidonia Wind Farm Roaring 40's 34 68 Inland
(10km NE of Kyneton)


Documents accompanying the referral to the Minister (presumably in support of the proposal) are able to be downloaded from


One of the documents - Site Inspection Report (see link below) - shows where roadside vegetation will have to be removed to allow the disassembled turbine parts to be transported to host properties (yes, that's how big these turbines are!).  It's not good news for Macedon Ranges' environment, because it means removing significant vegetation in areas covered by Vegetation Protection overlays for both roadside conservation and wildlife corridors (VPO2, VPO6); in an area near Bald Hill Reserve covered by a Significant Landscape overlay (SLO1), and through low density residential areas, right up to Edgecombe Road in Kyneton itself. See map.  A rough estimate suggests over 20 km of roadsides will be affected.  There is also an unconfirmed report that Transfield Infrastructure has made an application to erect a wind monitoring tower closer to Kyneton on the Baynton Road.


Link to Site Inspection Report:$File/2008-1+Annex+8+Site+Inspection+Report+-+Transport+-+Part+2.pdf


MRRA Says:


Alternative energy - yes!  Robbing the environment to save the environment - no!   If significant roadside veg is lost just to get the pieces in, what will happen when the gigantic turbines themselves - and the powerlines needed to get the power they produce to the grid - start to roll out?   There has to be a better way of reducing greenhouse gas without reducing trees, biodiversity and amenity, and invading significant landscapes, at the same time.  Isn't Australia clever enough to come up with a solution that lets us move ahead on greenhouse gas, without taking all these other values away?


You may recall that Macedon Ranges Shire produced a Wind Turbine Policy a couple of years ago that recognized significant values in the Shire.  The State government said it couldn't go ahead because the policy wanted 2km separation between turbines and existing dwellings.  Now that an application for wind turbines is imminent, isn't it time to decide what the future role of Macedon Ranges' rural land will be: agriculture, conservation, significant landscapes, energy production, or dwellings on rural lots?  It seems it can't sustainably be all of them...  It will be interesting to see where our Councillors stand on this proposal, and whether they are prepared to pressure the government to move Council's policy forward.



National Code Of Practice For "Wind Farms" On The Way

(12/9/06 - P)  "Will ensure local communities have a part in the process" says Federal Environment Minister Campbell

Federal Minister for the Environment Ian Campbell yesterday announced agreement had been reached with the wind industry on a National Code of Practice.  Two key concerns the Code is said to address are the location of wind energy facilities, and inclusion of local communities in decisions about them.  In Victoria, most decisions about wind energy are made by the State government, and this is seen as over-riding and excluding local communities and issues.  Click here to see yesterday's Age article.



Wind Farm On The Way In South Gisborne?

(12/7/06 - P)  Are wind turbines about the invade the landscapes of Mt. Macedon?

Locals around Dalrymple Road are reeling after being told the area is being scouted for wind turbine locations.  It seems locals bumped into someone marking up a map with red crosses, and were told the crosses were wind turbine locations.  From the map it seems someone is looking at dotting the landscape between Mt. Macedon and the metropolitan area boundary in Macedon Ranges Shire, and in Green Wedges in the north of the City of Hume, with these 130+ metre high windmills, including across/on top of standout landscape features, Jacksons Creek valley and Red Rock.


MRRA Says:

Poor old South Gisborne - just one crazy development idea after another:  telecommunication towers, freeway service centres, motels, and now it looks like wind turbines.  Does someone think this hugely sensitive landscape is zoned industrial?   If wind turbines are about to emerge as the next threat, don't expect to have much say in the matter.  The State government decides where wind turbines are and aren't located, not Councils and local communities.



Federal Environment Minister Moves Towards National Code For 'Windfarms'

(9/5/06 - E)  Discussion Paper now out.  Don't miss your chance to have your say

The Federal Minister for Environment, Ian Campbell, issued a press release on May 3 announcing that a Discussion Paper for a National Code for Wind Farms is out for public comment.  We haven't been able to find a closing date for comments, but if you do, can you please let us know!  You can access the Minister's press release by going to   Download a copy of the Discussion Paper by going to and send your comments in by email on



Macedon Ranges Landscape Guardians Call For Expanded  Wildfire Overlays Around Wind Turbines

(15/5/06 - E)  Latest MRLG Newsletter asks for your support

Click here to see the Guardian's newsletter



Council’s Revised Wind Energy Policy Goes Forward

(31/8/05 – E) Minister For Planning to be asked to approve placing amendment on exhibition to include policy in planning scheme but policy available on Council’s website contains an error

Council’s at times controversial Wind Energy Policy stayed controversial at last Wednesday’s Ordinary Council Meeting.  Two Councillors – Todd and Gee – made a last ditched attempt to reduce the policy’s requirement for a buffer zone of 2 km from ‘non-participating’ residences to 1 km, saying the 2 km buffer would prevent wind energy facilities from being developed in the Shire.  The Todd/Gee motion was defeated 6 votes to 2.  The other Councillors – Bleeck, Connor, Dunn, Guthrie, Petrovich and Relph – rejected the reduction, with Councillor Bleeck saying buffer distances should be increased because the latest wind turbines coming out of Europe are now over 182 metres high (600 feet) with blades 44 metres long.   Cr. Evans was absent from the meeting.


MRRA Says:

The copy of the Policy we downloaded from Council’s website says a 1km buffer is required instead of the 2km distance approved by Council.  MRRA hopes this is corrected before the policy is forwarded to the Minister.



Landscape Protection Rally At Parliament House and National Conference, Sunday August 14

(31/7/05 – E) If you love our Victorian landscapes, this is something you can do.  UPDATE  (7/8/05 – E)  Click here to see Macedon Ranges Landscape Guardians’ Press Release

A rally calling on the State government to protect Victorian landscapes will be held on the steps at Parliament House on Sunday 14th August starting at 10.00 am (be there by 9.30 am).   Following the rally, the Landscape Guardian National Conference will be run by the Victorian Landscape Guardians starting at 11.00 am.  The theme of the conference is: “PROTECTING THE LANDSCAPE – COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION IN THE PLANNING PROCESS”.   The Conference includes a sit-down luncheon with a guest speaker panel.  Buses are being organised, RSVP is August 5th.  Click here for details and contacts, and Registration Form.



Macedon Ranges’ Landscape Guardians Ask Council To Support A “Turbine Free” Shire

(22/4/05 - P) Vandalizing irreplaceable landscapes with industrial structures makes as much sense as burning the Mona Lisa and other art masterpieces to produce energy…

At Council’s planning committee meeting on 20/4/05 Macedon Ranges’ Landscape Guardians, who have been fighting proposals for up to 200 wind turbines in Macedon Ranges, asked Macedon Ranges Council to put up signs on the Shire’s boundaries declaring the Shire to be a “Turbine Free” zone.  The call came as residents made presentations to council on its draft Wind Farm Policy.   One of the most consistent objections was to using the term wind FARM to describe these industrial facilities, another was that there needs to be a much more substantial separation of the facilities from existing dwellings.  Guardian reps also pointed out that wind turbines aren’t in Yarra Ranges because it has State planning protection whereas Macedon Ranges doesn’t.    Cr. Alan Todd moved that Council refer the draft policy to a subcommittee for further consideration of submissions, the subcommittee to include (but not be limited to) Councillors Alan Todd, Henry Bleeck, Helen Relph and Heather Gee and that a further report be brought to Council in June.  Cr. Henry Bleeck opposed the motion, stating discussion had gone on for 9 months, he had been studying wind farms, they are site specific and while he felt they don’t belong in the south (of the Shire), he accepted them in the north.  (NB  Cr. Deb Dunn was absent).