Areas surrounding Ballarat are shaping up for a big year in wind farm construction, with pieces of one farm lying in wait.
Pieces of gargantuan turbine structures awaiting construction have started appearing on roadsides in Moorabool Shire, including the Yendon-Egerton Road in Millbrook.
According to the Lal Lal Wind Farm website, the civil and site works are “well under way” at the premises, allowing for turbine sections to be relocated to the site.
Transportation of the turbine tower components to both Yendon and Elaine wind farm campuses began on November 26, and is scheduled to be finished by the end of March this year.
“Deliveries will generally occur overnight and arrive at the Yendon or Elaine sites in the early hours of the morning to avoid traffic peaks,” the Lal Lal Wind Farm website stated following the start of the transportation period.
The components will be transported through Meredith, Elaine, Clarendon, Lal Lal, Yendon, Scotsburn, Mt Wallace, Ballan, Gordon, Millbrook and Mt Egerton.
Construction at the Lal Lal Wind Farm began in May 2018, with wind turbines to be erected by June this year, and the wind farm operational by September.
When completed, the wind farm will be able to power approximately 95,000 houses each year, creating 700 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity per annum.
Turbines will be about 800m away from dwellings at their closest point. The organisation held a turbine noise simulation in mid-November to demonstrate how loud the farm is expected to be, with regulations stating wind farms must not be louder than 40 decibels at a residence.
Lal Lal Environment Protection Association’s John McMahon told The Courier the group had requested the demonstration, so people would know what the regulation level would be.
He said there were concerns about who would monitor noise levels once the wind farm was built and how, and what the consequences there would be for breaches.
“There’s 2000 people within 5 kilometres of the Lal Lal Wind Farm,” he said.
Lal Lal Wind Farm is also engaging in landscaping works for residents within four kilometres of turbines to improve the amenity of the area if the infrastructure is visible.
Lal Lal Wind Farm were contacted for this story.
Questions raised on load-bearing roads
With massive turbines being delivered to Elaine and Yendon until the end of March, concerns have been raised about the eventual state of the local roads.
Moorabool Shire Council mayor Tatchell confirmed to The Courier that an agreement between Moorabool Shire Council and the Lal Lal Wind Farm existed which forced the energy operator to return roads around the wind farm to their previous condition.
But he said there hadn’t been “any great success stories” when it came to shire-managed roads being repaired after providing passage for heavy turbine loads.
“They’ve been doing this all over Victoria, and unfortunately councils are left to pick up the pieces afterwards,” Mr Tatchell said.
“I find the whole thing very frustrating. I’m not against farms … but country areas are now not only supplying food for the city, and now we’re supplying electricity.”
Mr Tatchell said he had been left wondering, “where’s the real benefit for rural Victoria?”
“We’re still paying ridiculously high energy costs, and the government is patting itself of the back over its energy policy,” he said.
The wind farm has established a $100,000 annual community benefit fund, which provides grants to local community organisations within 5km of the farm.
Mr Tatchell said he’d like to see cheaper energy funneled into manufacturing in regional areas, in order to keep costs down and ensure regional businesses survive.
“If you want to put cheap energy into regional Victoria, why don’t we create some jobs and plug into the back of these wind farms so we can be globally-competitive,” he said.“We’ve never seen the benefits of these things yet, and you’ve just got to wonder if it’s all politics or whether they’re fair dinkum.”