THINKING of erecting a mini wind farm in your back yard? Your neighbours might not be too happy but there’s nothing they – or the council – can do to stop you provided the turbines are under 11 metres.
That’s the situation for residents of Dixon Street, in Surf Beach, where a property owner is erecting a 10 metre wind turbine just metres from neighbouring houses.
When the neighbours appealed to the council for help they were told there is nothing the council can do because the owner is within his rights.
At Wednesday’s council meeting, 10 questions came from Surf Beach residents perplexed at the lack of council action. Concerns included the noise, vibrations and the impact on birds.
That question went unanswered, though council CEO Ali Wastie acknowledged the concerns of the community and said the council was taking them seriously.
She said that under the Bass Coast Planning Scheme the owner did not need a planning or building permit because the land was zoned residential, the turbine was under 11 metres in height and would be used to power the existing house.
“We believe it’s unfortunate that as it stands a planning permit is not required. Quite frankly it’s not good enough.
“As CEO I’ve written to senior planning directors within the State Government to highlight the lack of controls within the state controls and requested amendments to planning schemes to enable council review and oversight of domestic wind turbines.”
While there are multiple constraints on where wind turbines can be erected in the state, the State Government’s policy and planning guidelines for development of wind energy facilities in Victoria (March 2019) state that prohibitions on wind energy facilities do not apply to “turbines on land in a residential zone, an industrial zone, a commercial zone or a special purpose zone that are integrated as part of the development. This allows for the consideration of turbines in an urban setting which would allow for the generation of electricity to support the energy needs of a dwelling, industry, business or the like on the land.”
Island Ward councillor Stephen Fullarton said it was ridiculous that a “commercial style” wind turbine could be erected next to houses in a tight residential situation.
“When you look at what’s happening in South Gippsland where the turbines are kilometres away and they’re screaming blue murder about those, it can’t be allowed. We have to find a way of fixing it.”