YOU wouldn’t want your life to depend on a legal interpretation of the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Act because it’s likely to offer you no protection at all.
But that’s typical of government legislation.
And it’s what the neighbours of the Bald Hills Wind Farm have found out.
For while they won their point that a noise nuisance exists, when the South Gippsland Shire Council found in their favour, after exhaustive investigations and expensive legal advice, on April 24 last year, it was a decision that effectively carried no legal weight at all.
Which is exactly what the Supreme Court confirmed last week, when it upheld council’s decision “that there existed an intermittent nuisance caused by the operation of the Bald Hills’ wind farm”.
The court found that the council hadn’t done anything wrong in coming to that conclusion or what it had done in discharging its responsibilities under the Act.
But because the council had decided to go down the path of recommending that the parties try to sort out their issues privately rather than taking any action against the operators of the Bald Hills Wind Farm directly, the court said there was nothing to be “quashed” as requested by Bald Hills.
As Charles Dickens famously put it in Oliver Twist, the law is an ass, and while his context would be an entirely unPC one these days, the fact remains… don’t rely on the courts to sort out your problems.
In the first instance, the problem is with the state government for coming up with provisions in such a fundamental ct, supposed to protect the reasonable enjoyment of your own land, which are not fit for purpose.
Here you have people that can’t sleep at night or carry on a conversation with visitors in their homes for the intermittent noise coming from the wind farm… and no one will do anything about it.
In the second instance, the problem is with the operators of the wind farm. They know there’s a problem, even if they consider they are operating lawfully under their planning permit, and morally at least, they should do everything they can to improve the amenity of their neighbours.
The adequacy of the permit conditions and the provisions of the Health and Wellbeing Act notwithstanding, if proper compensation had been paid to non-involved neighbours of the wind farm project in the first place, all this could have been avoided, and should be with future wind energy projects.