LABOR’S plan to halve the exclusion zone around wind farms in a bid to galvanise a stuttering industry is not significant, according to members of a community living at the feet of the towering turbines.
Mount Mercer’s 64 turbines became operational in the middle of this year and a family living about one kilometre away is unsure “what the fuss is all about”.
“We barely hear them,” said Stephen Kent, who, after co-existing with the turbines for almost six months, likened their sound to a distant freeway.
Labor’s plan would cut the exclusion zone around dwellings from two kilometres to one kilometre, and make the planning minister responsible for approving new wind farms.
The Kents knew turbines would be installed close to their property before they moved to Mount Mercer in 2011 but were unperturbed.
Megan Braun’s half-built house, just 750 metres from a turbine, is dwarfed by the structure. “I find it really sad actually because I was looking forward to living with them and I don’t even notice them any more,” she said.
Most Mount Mercer residents were pragmatic about the structures after learning to live with them, however one resident, Milton Pearce, who lives 800 metres from the nearest turbine, said he vehemently opposed the turbines going in. “I didn’t like it at all,” he said.
Ian Low, who lives two kilometres from the turbines, said the anti-turbine sentiment became more fervent the further you were from the turbines.
Lal Lal wind farm project manager Steven Crowe said while Labor’s idea was positive, it wasn’t entirely unique, as the state government amended the two-kilometre exclusion zone for existing approved projects a few months ago.
Mr Crowe, who works for West Wind Energy, said Labor’s stance wouldn’t necessarily translate into more wind farms in Victoria as the federal government continued to stall on its Renewable Energy Target (RET).
He said with Clive Palmer seemingly dragging his feet over a RET deal with the government, local projects would continue to be put on hold before a firm market for alternative energy emerged.