Gippsland Portal Local News:
The turbines of Toora are powering controversy...
By Emma Kae - 5th June 2002 - Back to News
As we move toward a cleaner future, encouraging developments are occurring in various industries across Australia, from food to transport. Arguably the most significant progress to affect Gippsland has been in energy production. However, the move toward the use of wind power as the new, environmentally responsible means of producing energy in Gippsland has been met with much controversy.
Like solar power, wind power is a popular and viable renewable energy technology. Wind power is created using wind turbines - mechanical devices used to harness the energy from the wind. The turbines are reliable, pollution free, and considerable inexpensive to operate.
Unfortunately for some residents of Toora and its surrounding area, the 12 turbines planned may not be considered a compliment to the picturescue region. Standing at an incredible 67 metres in height, and with each blade boasting a length of 33 metres, the turbines may be statuesque, but hardly a natural looking feature.
The community of Toora is divided over which has more value – an uncluttered, tourist attracting landscape, or a sustainable, inexhaustible green form of energy capable of powering over 6,600 homes.
Community wide surveys have revealed that as much as 80-90% of respondents were in favour of the continuing development of the wind farm in Toora. The Mayor of Toora, Cr Jeanette Harding has been a long time supporter of the project and was quoted as being "absolutely thrilled" when plans for the wind farm were approved (source: www.stanwell.com)
Not everyone is as impressed, with several residents standing up to fight further developments in Toora. David Lewis, councillor for South Gippsland, for example, once voted in favour of the wind farm has since jumped the fence to protest the project. "From the research that I’ve done… the effects on areas of high scenic values are enormous" he stated on the popular 7:30 Report television show.
However, the considerably informed Victorian Energy Minister Cindy Broad argued with Mr. Lewis’ downplay of the potentially massive benefits of the wind farm developments, saying "I would have to disagree with him (on those matters)" (7:30 Report).
Many supporters of the project refer to case studies of wind farms functioning in other areas of Australia, such as that at Windy Hill in Far North Queensland. It is expected that the development of wind farming in Toora will have a positive impact on the local economy through tourism, jobs and an increase in the use of local goods and services to echo the outcome of the Windy Hill project.
Protesters argue that the two cases are hardly comparable as Windy Hill is an isolated region, while the turbines in Toora have reportedly fallen a mere 400m from residential areas. In the face of dispute, the project was given the green light after a VCAT panel hearing that found that the project’s objectors had no valid grounds for their opposition other than visual.
However, the bindings of the Federal Government’s Mandated Renewable Energy Target legislation demand that the region generate a portion of the national electricity consumption via "new renewable energy". The legislation – reportedly in place until the year 2020, makes it difficult for protesters to come up with a valid alternative.
It seems that this situation is not a predicament that can be considered easy to solve.
Click here to visit the Toora Wind Farm & Community Information Website
Published by: email@example.com
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|Baw Baw||Bass Coast||Cardinia||East Gippsland||Latrobe City||South Gippsland||Wellington|
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