WIND whipped around politicians and members of Hepburn Wind as the first sod was turned at the Hepburn Community Wind Park yesterday.The weather was fitting for the occasion, which saw Australia's first community-owned wind farm become a reality after five years of planning.More than 250 supporters, including state Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings, Member for Ballarat East Geoff Howard, and Member for Ballarat Catherine King, were at the Leonards Hill ceremony, located 10 kilometres south of Daylesford.The $12.9 million project received $8.4 million of funding from local residents buying shares in the wind park. A portion of the income made from selling the green energy will go into a community fund.Protesters were also on site to voice their concerns about the health issues associated with wind farms and the proximity of the turbines to homes.Mr Jennings said he was excited to be a part of what is a landmark project in the state."The Hepburn Community Wind Park will generate enough renewable energy to power the majority of houses in the Daylesford-Hepburn area ? that's saving 12,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas annually, or 244 million black balloons," he said."It's great the community has come together to support one another to do good things for the environment."We think it will show great leadership across Victoria." Hepburn Wind chairman Simon Holmes a Court said 1340 community members had bought shares in the project.He hopes to encourage other communities to develop similar co-operative projects through their newly launched Embark organisation."This will give other communities the information they need to adapt and adopt this model to their own situation," he said.Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions is also supporting the project."Hepburn Wind are inspirational in their leadership of community-owned renewable energy and we enjoyed the celebration of yesterday's ground breaking event," Melanie Wollcock said. "Embark will inspire and empower communities across Australia in transitioning away from their dependence on polluting coal-fired power stations and embracing renewable energy."In three weeks time construction of roads and infrastructure will begin, with the turbines expected to be erected next Easter. Organisers believe clean energy will start flowing into the local energy grid by mid 2011."I think this is great because we see the community coming together to say we want to take action in regard to climate change," Geoff Howard said.