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The convener of this website is Alan McDonald who has had a long association with the South Gippsland area. He is one of a group of landowners, residents and others opposed to the turbines on high quality, agricultural land which is part of a beautiful landscape. He is affected by the proposal.


We are opposed to the construction of large wind turbines by Synergy Wind. The proposed wind turbines on land near Yarram should be relocated out to sea where they would fit well with other proposed wind energy generation turbines.





The regulatory framework: Why the Synergy wind farm proposal at Yarram and any other South Gippsland wind farm should never proceed

Who are the regulatory bodies involved in approving a planning application for an onshore wind farm?


The Commonwealth Government’s role is to determine whether or not any proposed wind farm facility project has the potential to be of significant impact on a matter of environmental significance per the Environment and Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth). Matters of environmental significance are:[1]


  • world heritage properties

  • national heritage places

  • wetlands of international importance (often called 'Ramsar' wetlands after the international treaty under which such wetlands are listed)

  • nationally threatened species and ecological communities

  • migratory species

  • Commonwealth marine areas

  • the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

  • nuclear actions (including uranium mining)

  • a water resource, in relation to coal seam gas development and large coal mining development

All planning permits to construct wind energy facilities are issued by the Victorian Department of Land, Water and Planning pursuant to the “Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development of Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria”. Once the planning permit is issued, local councils are responsible for ensuring compliance.

The Liberal and National Party Coalition’s policy on renewable energy is as follows:

  1. Keeping electricity affordable

  2. Reducing carbon emissions to meet international obligations

  3. Investing in renewable energy resources – mostly solar power


What are the requirements to build an onshore wind farm in Gippsland?

See the Victorian Government’s “Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development of Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria (last updated November 2017)


Landscape Impact

1. Wind energy facilities not permitted to be built in the following areas:[2]


  • National Parks and other land subject to the National Parks Act 1975


  • Ramsar wetlands as defined under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;


  • Yarra Valley and Dandenong ranges, Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas, the Great Ocean Road area within five kilometres of the high water mark, and Macedon and McHarg Ranges;

  • land within five kilometres of the high water mark of the Bass Coast, west of Wilsons Promontory;

  • all land west of the Hume Freeway and the Goulburn Valley Highway; and

  • all land within five kilometres of the high water mark of the coast east of the urban area of Warrnambool.


2. Exceptions to the prohibition include


  • where the turbines are principally used to supply electricity for domestic or rural use of the land;

  • turbines on land in a residential, industrial, commercial or special purpose zone that are integrated as part of the development; and

  • turbines on land described in a schedule to the National Parks Act 1975 (Vic) principally used to supply electricity to a facility used in conjunction with conservation, recreation, administration, or accommodation use on that land.


3. Turbines within 1km of a dwelling must obtain written consent from all landowners within that radius[3]


  • This does not apply to land in a residential, industrial, commercial or a special purpose zone


4. No specific prohibition as to the height of turbines but the Department takes this into account when determining whether or not the visual impact is acceptable as a whole, with regard to among other things:


  • The visibility of the development;

  • The location and distances from which the turbines can be viewed;

  • The sensitivity of the landscape features to change; and

  • The significance of the landscape as described in the planning scheme.


Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Values

5. Approvals may be required under Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic) and Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2007 (Vic)

6. Views of relevant Aboriginal people should be considered in the early planning stages of a wind energy facility.


7. Native Title Act 1993, may apply if the site involves Crown land

Environmental Protection Legislation


8. State: If the proposal is likely to have a significant effect on the environment per Environment Effects Act 1978 (Vic), refer to the Victorian Minister for Planning for an environmental effect statement (EES)[4]

9. Commonwealth: If the proposal is likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significant, obtain approval from the Minister for Environment under Environment and Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act)_

Community Consultation

10. Pre-application community consultation not required under statute[5]

Site Analysis


11. Must describe among other things the geographical features of the site, current land use, existing buildings and features on the site, vegetation type, wind characteristics and cultural heritage significance[6]


12. Regarding the surrounding area, site analysis must describe existing land uses, access to infrastructure, location of existing dwellings within a 1km radius of a turbine, written consent from affected landowners, areas of environmental significance to the State and Commonwealth statutory environmental protection schemes (described above)[7]


Flora and Fauna Impacts Assessment


13. Assessment on whether or not the proposal will affect protected species under the EPBC Act or the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Vic)[8]


14. Preparation of an environmental management plan detailing how the applicant proposes to minimise damage to the environment from construction[9]

Aviation Impact

15. Consultation with the Civil Aviation Authority if the facility will:[10]

  • Be within 30 kilometres of a declared aerodrome or airfield;

  • Infringe obstacle limitation surface around a declared aerodrome; and

  • Include a building or structure that is 110 metres tall or more.

16. Notify the Royal Australian Airforce where a structure:

  • Is 30 metres or more aboveground and within 30 km of an aerodrome; or

  • Is 45 metres or more above ground level for structures located elsewhere.

Noise Impact


17. Obtain an assessment of compliance from an Environmental Protection Authority appointed auditor[11]

Shadow Flicker


18. Shadow flicker experienced from a dwelling must not exceed 30 hours a year as a result of the facility


About the Proposed Alberton Wind Farm


  • The facility will involve up to 34 turbines. The turbines will have a maximum overall tip height of 200m

  • Located 216 kilometres east of Melbourne in South Gippsland in the Shire of Wellington, along the South Gippsland Highway, 6 kilometres south of Yarram


Negative Impact of Onshore Wind Farms


  • The technological pace of coastal wind farm (coastal wind farms defined as being within 25km of the coast) development has outstripped the development control process, which has resulted in a largely unforeseen cumulative impact on the Australian coast

  • Turbine failure can initiate bushfires during summer – turbine fires occurred in South Australia at the Lake Bonney wind farm (January 2006), the Wattle Point wind farm (February 2009) and the Starfish Hill wind farm (October 2010)[12]

    • `Fires were the second biggest cause of serious wind turbine accidents and are often difficult to target due to their height[13]

  • Turbine noise causes annoyance, sleep disturbance and deprivation, and can result in adverse health effects[14]

    • Ongoing controversy at Bald Hills where an independent expert report found that noise levels caused by the wind farm was harmful and was likely to be a “nuisance” within the meaning of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic) s 58.[15] This is despite the wind farm being compliant with the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic)[16]

    • Wind Turbine Syndrome Crichton, F., Dodd, G., Schmid, G., Gamble, G., Petrie, K.J., 2014. Can expectations produce symptoms from infrasound associated with wind turbines? Health Psychol. 33 (4), 360–364 ​

Do offshore wind farms in other countries work?

  • Location of operating offshore wind farm facilities include the UK, Denmark, Germany, Sweden

  • Offshore wind farms are able to generate up to three times as much electricity as turbines on land[17]

  • Turbines on land will only provide 1 watt per square metre of energy[18]

    • “Wind shadow” phenomenon reduces amount of energy actually generated

  • Higher and steadier offshore winds make them more productive than onshore wind farms quoted in UK 36% offshore energy capacity cf. 27% for onshore wind farms[19]

  • Issues with supply chain bottlenecks regarding obtaining equipment to build offshore wind farms due to limited supply but there is increasing signs that supply is now catching up with demand[20]

  • Winds are stronger and more stable at sea[21]

  • Eliminates visual impact and noise on land which allows flexibility in developing the technology to improve its efficiency[22]



Other References

Pohl et al., ‘Understanding stress effects of wind turbine noise – the integrated approach’ (2018) 112 Energy Policy 119-128.




[2] Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development of Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria p 11.

[3] Ibid p 22.

[4] Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development of Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria p15-17.

[5] Ibid p 18.

[6] Ibid 24-25.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid p 28.

[9] Ibid p 29.

[10] Ibid p 30-31.

[11] Ibid p 32-33.

[12] Nick Harvey and Romana E.C Dew, ‘Coastal Impact of Onshore Wind Farms in Australia’ 2016 75(sp1) 992-996.

[13] Pilita Clark "Wind farm fires spark concern." Financial Times, 17 July 2014

[14] John P. Harrison, ‘Wind Turbine Noise’ (2011) 31(4) 256-261.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Eli Kintisch, ‘Offshore Wind Farms Have Powerful Advantage Over Land-Based Turbines Studies Find’ (2017) Science; Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira, ‘Geophysical Potential for Wind Energy Over the Open Oceans’ (2017) 114(43) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 11338 – 11343.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Richard Green and Nicholas Vasilakos, ‘The Economics of Offshore Wind’ Energy Policy 39(2) 496 – 502.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Mehmet Bilgili et al., ‘Offshore Wind Farm Development in Europe and its Comparison to its Onshore Counterpart’ (2011) 15(2) 905-915.

[22] Ibid.





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