Hawkesdale residents’ bid to stop windfarm project rejected by Victoria Court of Appeal

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A group of residents’ final bid to shut down a wind farm near Hawkesdale in south-west Victoria has been rejected by the Victoria Court of Appeal.

Residents of the small town of Hawkesdale Incorporated had attempted to appeal the Supreme Court’s decision last August to dismiss its legal challenge to the project’s planning permit extension.

The proposal called for the construction of up to 26 wind turbines with a total output of 97 megawatts, up to a height of 180 meters.

The group of residents were concerned about noise and visual impacts, saying they feared the project would drive people away from town.

“The soul of our community will be destroyed. It will be the death of our city,” said group president John Bos.

This morning, three Supreme Court justices determined that the license condition was valid without error and denied leave to appeal.

Big project, small town

Located between Hamilton and Warrnambool, Hawkesdale is home to around 311 people according to the latest census data.

In 2008, Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne approved planning permission for energy company Global Power Generation (GPG) Australia to construct the wind farm approximately 5 kilometers from the city.

Spanning 2,280 hectares, the wind farm was designed to displace 333,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, according to the GPG website.

The project plan was first approved in 2008.(Source: Global Power Generation (GPG) )

A request to extend the project’s planning permission until 2023 was granted in 2020.

The extension was the basis for the residents’ group to launch a legal battle last year, arguing that the planning minister’s decision was “invalid” because no valid application for a permit extension had been made.

On August 20, 2021, Supreme Court Justice Melinda Richards dismissed the proceeding, finding that the group lacked standing to bring the proceeding and that the license extension was valid.

This decision was appealed by the group and was taken to the Court of Appeal in May for a hearing.

‘Bitterly disappointed’

Mr Bos said he was saddened by today’s result.

seven residents of the small town of Hawkesdale stand together looking at the camera
John Bos (center) is the president of People of the Small Town of Hawkesdale Incorporated.(Source: GoFundMe)

“I am bitterly disappointed,” he said.

“This morning’s decision regarding the trial was not in our favour.

“It is too early to fully understand the reasons for the loss. Our lawyer has indicated that she will likely discuss with the QC over the next few days the ramifications of this verdict and what can be done, if any.”

The group had raised just over $1,500 for legal costs through a crowdfunding campaign, describing the Supreme Court fight as “a battle of David versus Goliath”.

GPG, Moyne Shire and Planning Minister Richard Wynne have been contacted by ABC News for comment.

Largest proposed wind farm

The decision on the Hawkesdale wind farm came just days after public tenders closed on plans for another wind farm located around 22km north of Port Fairy in the Moyne Shire.

The Willatook Wind Farm project would see 59 wind turbines constructed with a maximum height of 170m, as well as a substation, battery energy storage system, underground cables, above ground transmission lines and power tracks. ‘access.

This project would have an expected operational life of 25 years, according to the Victorian Government Planning website.

A hearing on the orientations of the project will take place in September, before a public hearing in October.

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