SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT

IT’S been like watching a train wreck in slow motion from day one.

From the time that the host-landowners, the authorities and the developers of the Bald Hills Wind Farm first unveiled their proposal, you could see it was going to create problems for uninvolved, neighbouring landowners.

It stands to reason.

The proposal trampled all over the unwritten code for farming neighbours, the time-honoured system of cooperation, co-existence and reciprocity whereby you don’t do something to them that you wouldn’t accept yourself.

But here was one group of landowners saying “to hell with you”, I’m going to maximise the return on my property by hosting several of these 126 metre-high turbines, regardless of the impact on you.

Unfortunately, the uninvolved neighbours copped all of the detriment and none of the return, and as it turned out, they’ve virtually been driven out of their homes by the noise, mainly because some of the turbines were erected far too close to houses.

In that sense, you could blame the state government for not protecting the neighbouring farm owners, but there should always have been a system of compensation and mitigation for those not directly involved, but who ultimately copped the impact of loss of farm value and reasonable expectation for the use and enjoyment of their land.

But here we have this week, in the Melbourne Supreme Court, the barristers for the operators of the wind farm treating some of these landowners like criminals simply for exercising their right to seek compensation for their injury.

It’s the final and in many ways worst insult.

Yes, by all means, develop renewable energy projects but everything must be done to protect the uninvolved landowners from all detriment.

This court case is an absolute disgrace, and the behaviour of the wind farm operators reprehensible but the ball is very much in the state government’s court to set this situation right, now and for the future.