By Kirra Grimes

THERE may be hope yet for residents of Surf Beach, Phillip Island, who fear their properties may be devalued by a 10.8 metre tall wind turbine about to go up in a neighbour’s backyard, with Bass Coast Shire Council intervening to pause the process for three weeks to conduct further assessments and appeals to the state government.

In response to continuing outcry against the proposed “monstrosity,” foundations for which went down earlier this month, shire CEO Ali Wastie acknowledged at Wednesday’s council meeting that construction of the turbine at a holiday home on Dixon Street would not represent a “good community outcome”.

But council officers were on the case, she said, recently requesting further information from the proponent to ascertain whether it should be subject to a planning permit application, which council could refuse.

Mayor Cr Brett Tessari had also personally raised the issue with the Minister for Local Government Shaun Leane at a recent mayoral advisory meeting, and council intended to “follow up to see if he has any powers at his disposal to enable him to intervene on behalf of the community,” Ms Wastie said.

An earlier request to senior planning directors within the state government, for changes to the planning scheme to allow council oversight of domestic wind turbines, was yet to receive a response.

However, in the meantime, Ms Wastie had contacted the landowner and requested construction of the turbine did not proceed until council’s assessment had been carried out.

Ms Wastie acknowledged a “high level of community concern” about the proposed structure and pledged to “pursue any and all enforcement options, for example, if the turbine is found to breach height requirements once complete – if it is completed – or if its use is considered to be commercial in nature either through energy output or use for advertising purposes”.

She reiterated that preliminary assessments of the turbine proposal found it did not require a planning or building permit under the current provisions.

“The size of the turbine does not trigger a planning permit as the plans submitted by the applicant indicate that the turbine from the bottom to the tip is under 11 metres,” she explained.

“A building permit is not required as it is not attached to a building. Despite community opinion, and the opinion of some building surveyors in the community, this advice has been double checked and triple checked and has been confirmed by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).

“The VBA has also confirmed that the turbine is an unclassifiable structure and therefore exempt from regulations.”

Construction couldn’t be prevented on the grounds of noise or other environmental impacts either, Ms Wastie said, as it was “impossible” to ascertain such impacts ahead of time; the property was outside the RAMSAR boundary wetlands; and there was nothing in the Health and Wellbeing Act prohibiting the installation of the turbine.

Read more in next week’s Sentinel-Times.
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