South Gippsland
Victoria, Australia



1-3 August 2007
6 September 2007

Back to Windfarm Home Page.
Photos taken at the Hearing.


DAY 1:
DAY 2:
DAY 4.




1-3 AUGUST 2007


Document author: Peter Stone, Devon North, CRDN coalition member. 
Author's personal comments and additional notes in [brackets].
Actual verbal or written quotations by particpants within "quotes". 

This is not an official document endorsed by VCAT, nor by any other party. Its content relies on the integrity of the author in recording by written notes the salient point of argument. The comments and additional notes are included for clarity and are the responsibility of the author. First person refers to author. The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those endorsed by all CRDN members, nor are they expressed as being represented of the views of the CRDN coalition as a whole. 

VCAT  hearing called by wind energy operators Synergy Wind who propose the development of a wind energy facility (WEF) at 144 Ingles Road, Devon Road, the property of Mr and Mrs G. Helleren. 

Application for Review P2691/2006

Wellington Shire Council, sitting on 17 October 2006, made the Detrmination:

 To Refusal to Grant a Planning Permit to Synergy Wind for the following reasons:
  The wind energy facility will impact unacceptably on local amenity in terms of:
   1. ongoing noise emissions; and
   2. disruption to views.

This Application for Review is made by Synergy Wind under Section 77 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987in respect of Wellington Shire Council's Refusal to Grant a Planning Permit for the Development and Use of a Wind Energy Facility at 144 Ingles Road, Devon North, Victoria.


VCAT Chair: Jeanette Rickards, Lawyer.
 Ian Potts, Engineer. 

Christian Spitzner, Manager, Synergy Wind.
Paul Chiappi, Barrister, 205 William Street, Melbourne, for Synergy Wind.

Tim Peggie. Associate. Representing the Wellington Shire Council.
The Planning Group (Vic) Pty Ltd., Level 3, 120 King Street, Melbourne. 

Joanne Lardner, Barrister, representing CRDN coalition.
Dever's List, Owen Dixon Chambers, 205 William Street, Melbourne, 3000. 

Expert Witnesses for CRDN:
Accoustics - Graeme Harding.  G. Harding and Associates. Suite 6, 131 Bulleen Road, Balwyn North, Vic 3104. (Wed, Thur, Fri)
Geology - Patrick O;Neil. Geologist.  Environmental Earth Sciences Vic, 146 Dover Street, Richmond Victoria 3121. (Wed)
Landscape -  Dennis Williamson.  Scenic Spectrums Pty Ltd, Glen Waverley. (Thursday)

John Traa, Planning, Wellington Shire Council (observer, no direct participation)

Steve Garito. Resident, Toora. (Property owner and neighbour to Toora Wind Farm). (Thurs, Fri)

Up to eighteen members of Concerned Residents of Devon North. In gallery. 


A number of documents were tabled at the hearing, or refered to in submissions.

Submission on behalf of Wellington Shire Council. Tim Peggie, Associate, The Planning Group. Tabled 1 August 2007. 

Submission of the Devon North Residents in Opposition to the Application for Review, Part I. Joanne Lardner, barrister. No date. Tabled 1 August 2007.

Submission to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Opposing the Installation of Wind Turbines at Devon North. Tom Reakes, paramedic, resident of Devon North. Tabled 1 August 2007.

Submission to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Hearing, August 1-3, 2007. Graeme E. Harding, Principal, Graeme E. Harding & Associates. 

Statement of Evidence Regarding the Lanscape and Visual Effects of a Proposed Wind Energy Facility. Submission by Dennis Williamson.  Director. Scenic Spectrums Pty Ltd. 

Submission of the Devon North Residents in Opposition to the Application for Review. Part II. Joanne Lardner. No date. Tabled 3 August 2007. 

Submission by Patrick O'Neil, Senior Principle Scientist, Environmental Earth Sciences.  This submission copnsidering the geological and geophysical aspects of the proposed WEF.

 Wellington Planning Scheme. 
 Local Planning Policy Framework.
  Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS).
   Strategy Plan for Yarram. 

Wellington Residential and Rural Residential Strategy - Yarram and Environs District Report, July 2004.  Jason Pullman and David Longmore. Provides an assessmernt of the supply and demand of Residential, Low Density Residential and Rural Living. 

Wellington Shire Council's Corporate Plan (2003-2006)

Planning and Environment Act 1987. 

Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development of Wind Energy  Facilities in Victoria, 2003. 

Environment Effects Act 1978.

Thackeray v Shire of South Gippsland. November 2000. (Toora Wind Farm decision).

NZ 6808:1998 Acoustics - the Assessment and Measurement of Sound from Wind Turbine Generators.
This New Zealand standard is that adopted by the Victorian Government. 

Marshall Day Report, Peter Fearnside.

Marshall Day Report, Tim Mark.

Hansen Report. Prepared by Stephen Schutt. Refers to the visual aspects of the proposed WEF. 
More on this on 6 September hearing day.

Van den Berg Report. 
Wind Turbines at Night: Accoustical Practice and Sound Research. Netherlands, 2003. 


VCAT have a website at http://www.vcat.vic.gov.au
This website provides details of operation and past decisions.

In summary, as it has applied to this hearing:

17 October 2006 Wellington Shire Council rejected an application made by Synergy Wind for    a nine-turbine wind at Devon North.

Date - Synergy Wind applied to VCAT for a hearing.

Date  -  VCAT Directions Hearing. VCAT Hearing set for 28-30 March 2007 

14 March 2007  - Harlock  Jackson Pty Ltdd, for Synergy Wind, advise adjournment of VCAT Hearing    set for 28030 March 2007.

Date  -  VCAT Directions Hearing.  VCAT Hearing set for 1-3 August 2007.

7 June 2007  -  Amended plans circulated by Synergy Wind, with a reduction to seven turbines.

1-3 August 2007 -  VCAT Hearing, Wellington Shire offices, Sale.

6 September 2007  -  VCAT Hearing, continuation and possible conclusion.

Date  -  VCAT Decision. (Within six weeks of the final day sitting).

[The following is my understanding and is in no way authorative, should be used for general interest only].

The Directions Hearing considers matters of representation from both parties, and the time that this could take to present at the Hearing, in order to set a timetable for an actual hearing. By this time, individuals and consultant representatives, and legal reprsentatives of the parties will have submitted their intentions to be represented.

The VCAT Hearing (Tribunal) considers the issue ‘from scratch'. Contrary to some thought, the Tribunal does not question nor consider any previous decisions that have been made by any other body that has resulted in the Hearing being established. In other words, the Tribunal is not questioning the decision of the Wellington Shire to refuse a permit application to Synergy Wind, nor are they questioning or considering any reasons that the Wellington Shire have indicated for their refusal. The Tribunal hears submissions from both parties in order to make a decision that reflects the cause for Synergy Wind to bring the matter to a Hearing, in this instance, to obtain approval for their application to construct a WEF at Devon North. In so doing, Synergy Wind are seeking to overturn the decision made by the Wellington Shire. The point here is that in order to make their decision, the Tribunal do not question the validity of the Wellington Shire decision per se, but draw their own conclusions based on the evidence of submissions presented by Synergy Wind and by Wellington Shire. Were the Tribunal to question the specific ruling made by the Wellington Shire, it would (only) be necessary to question the competence and authority of the decision itself, ie was it made with due consideration to the presented facts, was it made within the guidelines of all levels of government, was it made within the requirements of written law, was it made without incidence of fraud, personal gain or negligent incompetence.

It is therefore incumbent on Synergy Wind to present their case as to why their application should be granted, and this must be done ‘from scratch' so to speak. Wellington Shire then have the opportunity to put their submission as to why they have made their initial decision, if they so choose, but they are not limited to defending only the stated reasons for their refusal, in this instance, on grounds related to visual and noise amenity. It thus allows all evidence and detail to be raised and considered by the Tribunal. Hence, in this instance, the matter of ground stability, as one example for consideration, could be, and indeed was, raised. 

Generally, there are two ‘sides' represented - the proponent and the opponent, ie Synergy Wind and the Wellington Shire. In the instance of this Hearing, there are two opponent groups, the additional being the reprentation by the Concerned Residents of Devon North, a coalition of resident neighbours opposed to the development of the WEF. Therefore the Tribunal hears from Synergy Wind through their barrister (Mr Chiappi), from the Wellington Shire (through planning consultant Mr Peggie), and from the CRDN through barrister Ms Lardner - plus Expert Witnesses called by (in this instance) Mr Chiappi and Ms Lardner. 

This no doubt begs the question as to why the CRDN decided on separate representation to that offered by the Wellington Shire. The answer stems predominantly from the Planning Department of Wellington Shire who made it clear that their representation would be made without any further input or assistance from the formal opponents to the application, ie (most members of) the CRDN. In other words, the Wellington Shire would ‘go it alone'. This was not accepted by the CRDN who were concerned, rightly or wrongly, that the interests of the CRDN may not have been fully represented; the CRDN wanted to be directly represented, to ‘have their say', in such an important issue. (Note that the CRDN did not know who would represent the shire.) For this reason, a barristor, Ms Lardner, was engaged, and all representation to the Hearing would be directed through her. It was to be expected of course that there would be dialogue and cooperation between Ms Landner and Mr Peggie, which indeed there was, in order to present a common opposition to Synergy Wind's objective.

It was the CRDN who engaged the three Expert Witnesses to represent their concerns on land stability, visual and noise impact. Once engaged, they worked closely with Ms Lardner in order to present their submissions. Communication to Ms Lardner was directed through one CRDN representative, Ms Sharon Dohnt. 

There was some discussion within CRDN ranks about further represetation to the Tribunal. Several people expressed an interest in presenting their own submissions to the Tribunal. It was agreed that in view of Ms Lardner ‘leading the charge' so to speak, it would not be in the interests of the group to achieve its objectives if a number of opponent residents had their separate say. Devon North resident Tom Reakes expressed his wish to speak to the Tribunal ‘from the heart', putting a more human and emotional touch to the Tribinal, and as Mr Reakes was so adept at doing so, this was agreed to. Ms Lardner also recognised that Mrs Neist could present her unique situation also. The difference here was that Mr Reakes was to offer a separate formal submission off his own accord, whilst Mrs Neist would be called by Ms Lardner. In registering his separate submission to the Tribunal, a procedure that had to be complied with before the Direction Hearing, Mr Reakes was able to cross-examine the Expert Witnesses at the end of their submissions. This is an important consideration, and one which I certainly did not understand prior to the Hearing. 

Needless to say, no further submissions or comments, nor questions, could be put by anyone not registered beforehand, and thus certainly not by anyone in the gallery. Questions could be forwarded discretely to Ms Lardner, Mr Peggie or Mr Reakes should the need arise. 

It should be mentioned that Madam Chair gave every consideration to Mr Reakes and Mrs Neist, and Mrs Kimber (see report), with every tolerance for any unfamiliarity of VCAT protocol. 

The nature of the proceedings can be see when reading the following report. In summary: after an introduction of formailities by Madam Chair, Mr Peggie presented his submission followed by Ms Lardner. (Note: Mr Chiappi did not commence proceedings with his submission on behalf of Synergy Wind, as was thought would be the case). After a quick visit to the proposed WEF site, the Tribunal reconvened after lunch and the first CRDN Expert Witness was called. All CRDN Expert Witnesses were called in sucsession: Mr O'Neil, Mr Harding, Mrs Neist (called by Ms Lardner for evidence), and then Mr Williamson.  After each Expert Witness concluded their submission, Mr Peggie, then Ms Lardner, was given the opportunity to question, followed by Mr Chiappi. Final questioning of the Expert Witness was by the Tribunal, generally to clarify any point. After all opponent (CRDN) witnesses were called (there were none called Mr Peggie representing the Wellington Shire), Ms Lardner presented Part 2 of her submission, a summing up of evidence so far. Mr Chiappi followed with a brief submission, and then called the first Expert Witness on behalf of Synergy Wind, Mr Day. As with CRDN Expert Witnesses, Synergy Wind Expert Witnesses were questioned by Mr Peggie and Ms Lardner, and on occasions by Mr Reakes who had that right throughout proceedings. Ms Jackson was celled for Synergy Wind, with subsquent questioning, this time first by Ms Lardner then Mr Peggie. The Tribunal had the last question session of the Expert Witnesses. 

Thus ended the three days of the Hearing. Madam Chair instructed that a fourth day would be held on 6 September, when the third and final Expert Witness for Synergy Wind, Mr Schutt, would be heard and questioned. There would then be a summing up by Ms Lardner and Mr Chiappi (and I presume Mr Peggie). 

A decision by the Tribunal would be announced within six weeks of the last day of the Hearing. 

There was no electronic or stenographic recording of the Hearing. There was very little interjection by the two barristers during submissions; ocassionally by the Tribunal where a point of clarification was required, and only ocassionally when a point of legal or procedural concern was raised. 

 To a question raised after the three days, 'did you feel you were given a good hearing by the Tribunal?', the answer must be an emphatic, 'yes'. 



Initial discussion on amended plans, specifically in relation to turbine 4. Tweo turbines had been eleiminated from the initial permit application, now down to seven turbines.

Discussion of clarification as to who is represented by barrister Joanne Larner. 
[The group calls itself Concerned Residents of Devon North. Twenty seven names are formally listed, but thirty seven actually represented.]

10.30am (approx)

Submission by Mr Tim Peggie, representing the Wellington Shire Council.

[The Planning Department of the Wellington Shire Council recommended that the application permit by Synergy Wind be approved, however the (elected) council rejected the application on a vote of six to one. The Wellington Shire Council sought a consultant to uphold their decision at the hearing. Even though the Planning Department approved the granting of the permit, on the grounds that the application met the legal requirements as laid down by various local and state by-laws, the consultant must represent the council with a view to upholing council's decision.]

Mr. Peggie's written submission was tabled, and read his submission to the hearing.

Mr Peggire reiterated the council's decision and reasons to refuse the permit. Maps and photographs were tabled to support his submission. 

Mr Peggie noted that there had been a reduction ion the number of proposed turbines from nine to seven..... however it remains opposed to the development and use of the wind energy facility for the reasons provided in the Refusal and considers that the proposal continues to warrant the refusual of a planning permit.

Mr Peggie noted:

In excess of twenty submissions were received (by residents of Devon North) objecting to the proposal, based on a number of grounds, namely,

Nose emissions are unacceptable
Visual impact is unacceptable.
Questions of the social benefot of (this particular) windfarm.
Application information insufficient.
Turbines are located on a fault line and groundwater receieiving area.
Danger to birds.
Impact of construction upon amenity and erosion.
Telecommuications interference.
Blade/Glint flicker.

Mr Peggie indicated current applicable zoning laws, specifically that the proposed WEF was in the recently introduced Farming Zone (Clause 35.07 of the Wellington Planning Scheme), gazetted by the Minister for Planning on 12 July 2007 (which replaced the Rural Use Zone). 

Mr Peggie indicated several relevant clauses in the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS). Specifically, this policy identifies that Rural-residential development is an important lifestyle feature of the Shire. It also stipulates that landscape features are important state and national assets. 

Mr Peggie referred to The Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development of Wind Energey Facilities in Victoria, 2003, and notes specifically; the matters to be considered are:
Contribuition to Government Policy.
Visual Amenity.
Amenity of Surrounding Area.
Aircraft Safety.
Flora and Fauna.

"The Council contends that ther Visual Amenity and the Amenity of the Surrounding Area are areas where the applicant fails to comply with the guidelines."

Mr. Peggie refered to The Residential and Rural Residential Straegy - Yarram and Environs District Report, July 2004.
... the Strategy designated Devon North as an area which could be considered for residential development (and) ... idenntifies the potential of Devon North to provide further rural-residential development and low density residential development. 

"The number and sheer scale and size of the turbines, in total 126.3 metres in height and 92 metres width, will have a dramatic impact on the landscape amenity of the area and the vissual amenity experienced by the neighbouring properties. The imposition of such large and dominant features in the environment described would have the affect of altering the landscape character of the area to the detriment of the underlying valued characteristics of the land. 
.... the subject site (the proposed windfarm) will be overwhelmingly impcated by the Wind Energy Facility resulting in severe detriment to their visual amenity."

Mr Peggie quoted from the Mooroolbool Planning Scheme (Yaloak Wind Farm), and noted that  there are fourteen neighbouring properties (to the proposed WEF at Devon North) which are within one kilometer of the proposed WEF  (and where) .... wind generators at a distance of one kilometre or less appear as huge structures that are visually very dominant.... (and thus) can have a very high visual impact".

Mr Peggie noted the applicant (Synergy Wind) has suggested that where there is a detrimental visual amenity posed by the WEF, "this issue can be satisfactorily resolved by the use of planting and vegetation in order to ameliorate any potential impacts". He notesd that such plantings would have only minimal effects and would "have the effect of further modifying the existing landscape",  and would in essence destroy the very landscape view ".... that is highly valued by the residents and from which they derive their current aamenity."

Mr Peggie outlined his concerns of the impact of noise  as a result of the proposed WEF, and noted New Zealand Standard NZ6808:1998 Accoustics - The Assessment and Measurement of Sound from Wind Turbine Generators.

[It is this standard which has been adopted by the Victorian government.]

Mr Peggie states:
"Council contends that although the reports (re Synergy Wind's application) demonstrate compliance in this regard, there is numerous lierature and evidence to suggest that the standard does not provide adequate amenity to surrounding residential properties". 

[What that means is that the NZ standard basically sets an 'acceptable level' of wind turbine noise too high, such that it allows a deterioration of amenity as a result of turbine noise. Mr Harding follow up on this in his Expert Witness report the following day.] 

In summing up Mr Peggie noted that the Wellington Shire regarded Devon North as a "main rural residential area", and that (Wellington council, ".... contends that the development of the Widn Energy Facility will be means of detrimental visual impacts and associated noise emiissions, compromise the capacity of Devon North to accommodate further residential and reural development ...... (which is) contrary to the objectives of the Strategic Framework plan and will have a detrimental impact upon the future development of the township of Yarram. 

[My interpratation:  if the WEF is allowed to proceed, it will result in a significant lesser interest in people not wishing to settle in Devon North, and indeed some existing residents my leave, accepting a loss in order to sell their property. A ruling in favour of the WEF development at Devon North will also have significant ramifications to the district as a whole as the possible and actual development of other small and large windfarms will  reduce the interest in the district, and thus limit further rural occupation, in turn retarding the economic growth of Yarram.] 

In conclusion, Mr Peggie states:

"It is readily acknowledged that there is substantial support for Wind Energy Facilities contained within the State Planning Polocy Framework. However, the detrimental and unacceptable impacts posed to local amenity by the proposed development of a Wind Energy Facility at this site substantually outweighs the net community benefit of the proposal."


Submission by Tom Reakes, resident/home owner, 571 Bolgers Road, Devon North.

[Tom felt compelled to express his very personal and emotional concerns to the hearing, and although his views were also represented by Ms Lardner, it was thought prudent to allow such a personal viewpoint, to a add a more 'human' aspect to the planning concerns under consideration. Tom's capabilities in expressing himself 'from the heart and mind' so to speak is well appreciated by CRDN members, and his comments have the full support and endorsement of the members.]

Mr Reakes read a four page submission to the tribunal. He spoke of his reasons for living in Devon North, and emphasised to community spirit and friendliness of the district, and how shocked he was when he realised that a WEF was proposed on a neighbouring property. He stressed his desire  for a quiet environment for his family, especially for wife Susan, who suffers periodic ill health., and expressed concern that a WEF, with its noise particularly, could further affect his wife's health. He spoke of several detrimental issues, noise being a major concern, together with devaluation of property, loss of visual amenity, and total lack of consultation by Synergy Wind with he and other residents of Devon North. 

"Throughout this whole saga I have never once been approached from anyone in the (Synergy Wind) company to talk about our concerns. Not once! ..... this is indicative of the indifferent manner with which its directors have treated the residents of Devon North."

In conclusion, Tom Reakes stated:
"I am angry about this whole farce, and indeed one-natural inclination is to want to scream ..... and draw attention not just to our cause but to the huge injustice and unfairness of this whole intrusion into our lives. Here we are living happily and peacefully and some copmany from the other side of the world enters ur 'backyard' and for the sake of making dollars wants to strip us of a life that is pleasant and peaceful, and fill it with these hideous, noisy, industrial monsters."

[Tom's passionate please for justice and his abhorance of the greed of those party to the proposed windfarm was so well appreciated by most of those present at the hearing that there was an uncharacteristic eruption of applause that moved the Madam Chair to politely request silence and no further outbursts.]

12.05 pm.

Barrister representing CRDN Ms Lardner requested Pauline Kimber, of Devon North, to lead the tribunal through a description of the area as represented by an excellent three-dimentional model of the proposed WEF area and environs that she had constructed for the purpose. The model showed the proposed turbines and neighbouring resident homes and buildings, roads and creeks, and terrain use. 

Mrs Kimber said that she had used a number of maps from a variety of sources, and noted that there was some difficulty in using some of these, some of which were presented by Synergy Wind 
in their submissions. 

Madam Chair thanked Mrs Kimber for her input and commented on the excellent model. 

12.15 pm.

Barrister Ms Lardner, made her formal submission, representing persons formally listed on a sheet presented to the hearing, those being people known informally as the Concerned Residents of Devon North, CRDN. 

Ms Lardner read her submission, with extensive ad-hoc comment throughout. 

Ms Lardner's submission and additional comment reflected the views of the people she represented, and covered much of the material and concerns expressed by the CRDN in their formal objections presented to Wellington Shire in respect of the Synergy Wind application. 

Ms. Lardner commenced her submission with the relevent and important statemeent:
"The Devon North community acknowledges that insofar as the development of wind energy facilities in Victorria is concerned, there is considerable encouragement at a state level for their establishment as one of a number of renewable energy resources."

[Although many (most?) members of CRDN have some doubts as to the efficiency and economic viability of windfarms per se, an opinion derived from many hours of study, observation and discussion as a result of the proposed Devon North windfarm, there is no direct objection to the concept of wind energy. Tom Reakes made this clear in his submission. It is appreciated that in some circumstances, in some locations, with efficient and viable physical and economic infrastructure, windfarms are a bona fide source of 'clean green' energy, and even if in a minor way, can reduce green house gas emissions by the reduction of the use of carbon-based fuels. The concern - indeed, the ONLY concern insofar as this hearing is concerned - is the inappropriate location of a Wind Energy Facility within a significant residential area at Devon North.]

Ms Lardner states (and remember Ms Larner is representing the views of the CRDN):
"The central issue in determining whether any nominated site for construction and operation pf a proposed WEF is appropriate involves striking a balancee between the interests of the wider community and the impacts on the local environment."

"It is the central tenet of this submission that the particular attributes of Devon North render the prospect of the construction and operation of a WEF at the proposed site, untenable. The significant adverse amenity impacts which this proposal will cause if constructed together with the strong risk of adverse environmental impacts operate to fundamentally recommend against the choice of Devon North as an appropraaite site for sonstruction of a WEF."

Ms. Lardner described the Devon North 'haamlet', with its residences, residents, and facilities, emphasising, "The community of Devon North prides itself on having and enjoying a strong community spirit".

Mrs Lardner covers some of the same issues and concerns as mentioned by Mr Peggie, emphasising several important concerns raised in the Wellington Planning Scheme such as sustainable land management, the capability of the land to accommodate the proposed use (of a windfarm), and the environmental impact. 

Mrs Lardner quoted from the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS), noteing that (Clause 21.05, Environment), that :
"Infrastructure development such as windfarms and high voltage transmission lines can also have significant detrimental effect on the landscpae."

Mrs Lardner stated that the three key themes which permeate the MSS are as follows::
- land caspability is an important consideration for most land use activities in the Shire;
- the importance of the Shire's ecological and landscape features; and
- that rural residential development is an important lifestyle feature of the Shire.

Ms Lardner indicated that these three themes are addressed in her submission, insofaar as they are relevant to the construction and operation of a WEF at Devon North. Ms Lardner emphasised Clause 21.05 of the MSS:
"The rural amenity of the Shire iss an aseet which is worthy of protection. Even the highly modified areas of the Shire possess high landscape values."

A number of important environmental objectives were listed in Ms Lardner's submission, including:
- (the need to) achieve ecologically sustainable management of rural land, perticularly in relation to the agricultural, timber and other industries that rely on the Shire's natural resources;
- protect, improve and sustainably manage the Shire's natural emvironment and diverse landscape;
achieve responsible land management in areas of high fire hazard, soil erosion and salinity.

Ms Lardner quoted from the Wellington Shire Council's Corporate Plan (2003-2006):
"Wellington (shire) will continue its development as a vibrant progressive community enjoying quality lifestyle opportunities and strong economic, environmental and social diversity."

And ......
"- to discourage major development outside the exisiting centres other than when a genuine need has been demonstrated and there will be minimum adverse impact on the natural environment."

[Ms Lardner is emphasising that the Wellington shire recognises the rights of the people within the shire to live 'a quality lifestyle', at the same time recognising the appropriate use of the land. The words 'genuine need', and 'minimum adverse impact' are teo of the major underlying issues in the argument against a WEF at Devon North. Genuine need negs the question of the relative importance of windfarms in terms of overall environment sustainability, specificaslly in their generation of electricity through a renewable resource and the lessening of green-house gases as a result of the reduced burning of carbon-based fuels. It therefore allows for a discussion on the effectiveness of windfarms to achieve their aims, and thus allows the introuduction of debate as to the efficiency of wind energy. Considering the considerable public debate, scientific evidence and practical observation (of exisiting windfarms), there is evidence that the claims made by the wind energy lobby have not been substantiated, with stated efficiency levels of up to 35% being reduced to half that amount, and in some instances to 10%. Although this begs the question as to whether the Devon North windfarm is "all worth the effort", it however is, as previously mentioned, not an issue with CRDNc that will be debated. The concern, again, is the inappropraite location of the proposed Devon North windfarm.  The question of 'minimum adverse impact', is very much part of the submission, and thus seeks to determine the impact on the environment of the proposed WEF. Note that 'environment' does not just mean the physical land but also, and perhaps more appropriately, the use and enjoyment of the land by those living on it, and thus addresses the amenity of the land. Isuues such as noise, flicker, and other disturbances are very much the issues.]

Ms Lardner noted that the Wellinghton Shire Planning Scheme addressed WEFs (clause 52.32)  with the need to consider:
- the views of the Sustainable Energy Association of Victoria in respect to reducing greenhouse gas emissions;

- the effect of the proposal in respect to noise, blade glint, shadow flicker and electromagnetic interference;
- the effect on significant views, including visual corridors and sightlines;
- the impact on the natural environment;
- the view of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority;
- the Victorian governmets view as expressed in the Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development of Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria, 2003. 

Ms Lardner concluded her submission (Part 1), with comment on planning issues and planning strategies such as drainage, further Wellington Shire reports and planning objectives, and emphasised again the three key points of the Municipal Strategy Plan. 

1.40pm Lunch.

The (two) tribunal members decided that during an extended lunch break they would visit the Devon North area for a quick observation of the area. 

[Considering the distance to travel from Sale to Devon North, about an hour each way, they would have had little time to observe the area from the three major roads, Ingles, Old Whitelaws and Bolgers.]

3.40pm Hearing resumes.

Submission by expert witness Mr Patrick O'Neill, called by Ms Lardner on behald of CRDN.

Mr O'Neill's submission, in essence, centred on three issues:
- the fact that the proposed WEF lies above or very near the Yarram Monocline, the major south-eastern Australia geological fault line;
- the issue of groundwater contamination, and the aquifer.
- the seriousness of landslip and general erosion due to the construction of the turbine towers, the transformer kiosks, cable trenches, roads and tracks, and other features of infrastructure including initial initial construction areas.

Mr O'Neill noted that the Wellington Planning Scheme requires consideration of:
- the capability of the land to accommodate the proposed use or development, including the disposal of effluent;
-  how the use or development relates to sustainable land management.
- whether the site is suitable for the use or development and whether the proposal is compatible with adjoining and nearby land uses.
And indofar as environmental issues are concerned:
- the impact of the proposal on the natural physical features and resources of the area, in particular on soil and water quality;
- minimise the development (including the construction of roads) within prominent areas ---- to lessen their impact.

Mr O'Neill stated:
In summary based on my experience, the proposal will significantly increase the risk of landslipand both short and long term erosion of the site (and surrounds) through the diversion and concentration of surface water. 

Mr O'Neill noted that there was no geological study of the land submitted by Synergy Wind in their application to the Wellington Shire for the proposed WEF. 

[A geological survey would consider the situation of ground water run off and accummulation, surface and subsurface pollution due to introduced contaminants such as oil and fuel, and the affect on the aquifer.
More significantly perhaps, it seems a gross error not to provide a geological survey of the land when constructing such high towers (126 metres) on concrete pads, on a soft surface terrain of varying contours, on or near a major monocline, even to the conclusion that there was indeed no problem with the geological aspects of the land. When this was raised with the Planning Department at Wellington Shire, in respect as to why a geological survey was not demanded of Synergy Wind, the reply was that it was not required within the terms of planning laws and requirements, due to the fact that there is no 'overlay' of the area which requires such a study. An overlay is a planning directive prepared by the State government to which the Shire can adopt. Without an overlay, the Shire is not required to seek further surveys nor make a decision that would be relevant to a situation should an overlay be present. There is no doubt that the Planning Department could have sought a geological survey of the proposed WEF land off their own initiative but it was not required. The Planning Department were most likely aware of the Yarram Monocline,  and certainly were after objections had been received post permit application, and dismissed the importance of the Yarram Monocline insofar as the proposed WEF was concerned. Whereas it is now understandable that the Wellington Shire planning department were not obliged to request a geological survey from Synergy Wind, I was concerned when reading the planning departments report which recommended that the permit be approved, that the comment was made (and I paraphrase as I do not a copy of the report written by John Traa at the momment), that - 'the fault line is of no concern as no houses have fallen down'. This is a most unfortunate comment and demonstrates a lack of apprecaition of the nature of structures. A windturbine, (MM92) is 126 metres high to the apex of a vertical blade, the nacelle at 80 metres, with a (approx) ten ton  three-bladed 'fan' structure canterlevered from the nacelle, the tower being affixed to a concrete base of a relatively small footprint (in comparison to height dimension). A house is, approximately, five to ten metres high, with a large comparative footprint. The relative stability of the two structures can easily be imagined - compare a match- box lying flat with that of a pencil standing on end. That is enough to visualise and demonstraate stability, but tape a fifty cent coin to the upper end of the pencil, and the demonstration is obvious. The presence of the fault line, irrespective of its stability, just cannot be ignored.]

Mr O'Neill demonstrated with photographs that landslip had occurred on the land in the past, "perhaps within the last sixty years", and spoke extensively on the cause and effect of landslip. 

Mr O'Neill spoke of the cable trenching that would be required to link all seven turbines/transformer kiosks with the main grid. Thre appeared to be some confussion as to whether this trenching was to be 600mm or 900mm below the surface. It was noted that irrespective of these depths, water would accummulate, and could cause further erosion and landslip. Likewise, the roads and tracks would be a contributing factor to erosion and landslip. Polution of the aquifer was mentioned briefly by did not appear to raise significant concerns.

[According to evidence given during the hearing, the proposed turbines, Repower Model MM92, have a separate, external, tranformer kiosk at the base of the tower, as distinct from an earlier model that has the transformer inside the tower. The kiosk is a 'tin-shed' construction of some 3 x 2 metres, and 3 metres high,  containing the transformer. An electrical cable leads from each kiosk, underground, leading to a point where all the cables are 'joined' for a single cable that leads from the WEF to a 'transmission station' which, it is understood, would be " near the (timber) mill at Church Road", before joining the power grid. There has been no indication as to where the 'joining' of the individual cabling will occur, and thus what physical structure will be required to house the electrical equipment. There may indeed be no such structuree nor equipment. This situation was not convered.]

Mr O'Neill indicated:
"The potential for landslips and erosion prompted by the proposed development are not risks which ought be left for management after construction. ....... It is very difficult if not impossible to apply management techniques to manage these issues after construc tion. "

[Subsequent comment by Mr Chiappi, and later comment of Ms Jackson, indicated that if there were a problem (with groundwater and/or erosion), corrective and restorative measures could be made by the proponent, Synergy Wind, after the event. It is understandable why the CRDN would be sceptical of such action by Synergy Wind and the landowner, but more alarming is that restorative measures are not always effective when it comes to geological issues - one does not 'correct' and landslip for example. The sensible action is preventation rather than cure. If there is a potential problem, then it should be addressed before construction. Certainly, potential problems are not always recognised even with the best expertise and intention, but in the insstance of this proposed WEF at Devon North, there is no indication in the report by Synergy Wind that they have given any consideration to such geological concerns.]

Mr O'Neill continues:
"Given the site's hilly nature, evidence of past landslips in the area and location in a high rainfall zone the potential for the development on this site to increase the likelihood of landslips is significant. 

Further, the Yarram Monocline (fold) beneath the proposed site increases the potential for landslips over other sites in the Strzelecki Ranges (not on fold or faults) due to the increases in fractures and weakness of underlying rocks caused by folding."

Mr O'Neill concludes:
For the forgoing reasons, I am of the opinion that the proposal:
- has not demonstrated a capability to accommodate the proposed development;
- is likely to result in an adverse impact on the natural physical features and resources of the area; and
- if approved would result in a large development in a prominent area which includes hillsides, ridge-lines and headlines and which is geologically both fragile and unstable.

Mr Chiappi cross-examination. 

Mr O'Neill was extensivel cross-examined by Mr Chiappi, particularly in regard to the ground-water issues, and the suggested accumulation of ground-water in the cable trenches. There was indication by Mr Chiappi that such accumulation of groundwater would not be significant and would not be a detriminental factor, to which Mr O'Neill replied, in summary, that it could possibly be a problem. 

[It is interesting that Mr Chiappi did not cross-exaine Mr O'Neill on the matter of the significance of building seven 126 metre towers on or near a major fault line. I think that because the fault line is indeed a significant issue, Mr Chiappi, acting for Synergy Wind, did not want to press the point. Mr Chiappi concentrated his cross-exaimination on the lesser issue (in some respects) to the accumulation of ground water and the significance of the cable trenches to any geological problem such as erosion. Mr Chiappi also questioned Mt O'Neill on the significance of ground and substrata pollution by chemical spills such as oil, Mr Chiappi indicating that spills such as oil would be very minor, to which Mr O'Neill siad replied in effect that a single isolated spill may be insignificant but the accumulated effect (over seven turbines, over twenty years - my comment), would be significant. There is also the consideration of oil and fuel spills as a result of the grid of maintenance roads over the property, which I estimaate to be about 2 km.]

Mr Chiappi questioned the credibility of Mr O'Neill by seeking Mr O'Neill to provide solutions to the geological problems that Mr O'Neill advised during his submission. (Ms Lardenr, on Day 3 in her Submission, Part II, states, "..... the need to extract from Mr O'Neill answers to solution to the problems which arise when the applicant's material is inadequate, failing as it does to address the challenges thrown down by the geological composition of the proposed site"). In other words, Mr Chiappi was seeking 'solutions' to the geological problems that Synergy Wind should have addressed in the first place.

[It would have been relevant, at least interesting, for Mr O'Neill, Ms Lardner or Mr Peggie,to have simply put to the tribunal, using the appropriate legalese of course, and more of a statement than a question:
Who in their right mind would spend forty million dollars constructing seven 80 metre towers, with a canterlevered ten ton 92 metre spinning blade structure at their apex, on soft ground over a major geological fault line.  The answer could well be: An overseas investment company promoting the advantages of a public-subsidised industry who entices finance from investors on the other side of the world who are not aware of such incompetence.]

Hearing ended for the day at 5.25pm.


9.30 am

Submission by Expert Witness, Graeme Harding, G.Harding and Associates, Melbourne.
Called by Ms Lardner.

Mr Harding, during his submission, used the whiteboard to draw diagrams, read from his  tabled written submission, and  spoke ad-lib on the matters mentioned in the written submission.

Mr Harding provided his Execitive Summary and concludes:

- That the turbines are too close to residents and that noise from the turbines will be disturbing to normal life and constitute a significant loss of amenity.
- That Policy and Planning Guidelines provide for the determination of compliance noise levels taking into account individual circumstances and amenity values to achieve an acceptable outcome.
-   That the proposed wind energy facility proposal has not demonstrated that after application of tonal and other penalties it will comply with appropriate noise limits at residential receivers.

Mr Harding presented what he terms the Four Paradoxes: (abbreviated and paraphrased):
- the noise under the turbine and elsewhere on the windfarm is not the same as that experienced at a neighbouring house - what is innocuous out in the open as a casual observation cpuld be most disturbing in the home;
- noise measurements of turbines seek to identify nd record tones, as against the constrant thobbing of a sound source (as would be experienced by a running engine or transformed which qare non-tonal) - my owrds in parenthesis;
- noise levels may be monitored, recorded and evaluated 'with no sign of abnormaility', and yet the resident complains of disturbing noise, ie the residisent is disturbed irrespective of the measured figures;
- despite the 'acceptance' level indicated by the NZ standard, there are 'vigorous complaints from residents'.

[The standard adopted by the Victorian Government is that of New Zealand, specifically NZ 6808:1998 Acoustics.  I have been unable to determine as to whay this NZ standard has been adopted. I understand there is a South Australian (accoustic) standard, which is no doubt adopted by South Australia, and I believe (without verification, New South Wales. I have also heard (without verification) of a Western Australian standard. It is important to note, as was done by Ms Lardner and others, that the NZ standard does include a clause that refers to the acceptance of adopting a local standard in lieu of the NZ standard itself, which is simply interpreted that if the NZ standard is formally adopted (and gazetted by a responsible body such as a government), there is no reason why another standard could not be used by a body required to use the NZ standard. A nifty 'out' clause to say the least. (This is referenced in NZ 6808, section 4.4.]

Mr Harding provided a 'cameo lesson' in accoustics, describing the various effects of windspeed, land countours, land (geological) structure, noise sources and receptors, structure of the turbines (specifically the blades), noise measurement reporting, and the perceptions of noise and sound to the human ear. He made it very clear that, "You cannot measure noise empiracally to demonstrate the intrusion or acceptance of the noise (by an individual - my comment)...... You cannot measure noise amenity  - in the absence of (such) measurement, you require the praactocal experience at similar conditions." 

[Mr Harding is attempting to ensure that the hearing appreciates that no matter what the actual measurements of sound may be, taken by whatever model of sound monitor, and interpreted by whatever empirical formulae recommended by whatever standard, there is no way that such mesured and interpreted figures can explain the acceptance or otherwise of and sound. He recognises , and states accordingly, that one 'noise' accepted by one person is an irritation to another, be it (my words follow in interpretation) due to volume, persistence, tonal quality, source or reception point. He is also indicating that (my words follw) that no matter what the standard may be, and no matter what may be deemed as an 'acceptable' noise level by such a standard, the interpretation of such an 'acceptable' standard is an arbitary level set my the standard in order to provide a guideline only (perhaops a matter of comparison), and cannot thus be interpretated as what is indeed, actually, accepted by an individual. This is quite apparent in an annecdotal and experienced situation  with, say, the Toora windfarm, where pre-construction sound level monitoring according to the New Zealand standard (and, incidentally, reported post-constructed monitoring), is at such odds with the actual acceptance level of the neighbours experiencing the Toora WEF that three have left their residences, there have been documented hundreds, perhaps in actuality thousands of calls to a 'noise hot-line', and public meetings have been called to evaluate the intrusion. In other words, the figures may infer one thing, the reality is another, and thus greater weight needs to be given to actual scenarios that is currently considered by wind energy advocates, and the tribunal.]

Mr Harding emphasised that the 'time period' of the 'noise' must be considered, providing the quite apparent example of the need for quieter time at night (for rest, relaxation and sleep - my comment), and thus noise measurement in order to provide some measure of the understandability of acceptance, must include an indication of the time period relevant to the submitted measurements. 

Mr Harding gave several examples of acceptable or othewise noise instances. 

Mr Harding reviewed the reports of Marshall Day Acoustics, making relevant comment as to the veracity of the data presented, and equating the data to the requirements of other standards and reports, specifically the (Victorian Government's) Policy and Planning Guidelinwes for Development of Wind Energy Facilities, the NZ standard, and Wellington Shire reports.  Mr Harding discussed the method of reording, specifically overall weighted sounds levels and 1/3 octave band levels (and the relevance between the two), the orientation of the turbines with respect to direction radiation, the nature of the ground surface (50-50 hard-soft terrain assumed), air attenuation rate, wind speed value and point of measurement. Mr Harding noted a discrepency in position coordinates presented by Marshall day of the monitoring facilities, and questioned the different distances from residences to the nearest turbine. (The difference in the coordinates and measured distances is apparently small, and although in error, appear not to significantly affect the stated figures: - my comment). Mr Harding commented on ten tabled points relevant to sound measurement, and indicated where valid considerations were not included in the calculations, and other comment adverse or otherwise. 

Mr Harding indicated (abbreviated):
Residents may be disturbed by one or more of the following sounds arising from the operation of the wind energy facility.
- Excessive Wind Turbine Generator Broadband Noise
- Low frequency noise modulation or fluctuation. 
 - Low frequency beating present with all wind energy facilities having asynchronous turbines.
- Infrasound excitation of surface in houses. 

[Based on Mr Harding's advice - infrasound is 'very low frequency pressure pulsations, which can cause  cause rattling of doors, windows, glasses in cabinets and similar'. It is often the 'rumbling' noise that can be heard from 'throbbing' engines in the disatnce, or the muffled bass-emphasised 'nopise' of a rock group. I believe it can be mechanically or electronically derived. It is of non-tonal (atonal) character and is difficult (impossible?) to measure.]

Mr Harding spoke on the difference of noise perception outside and within a house, and indeed within rooms within a house, and how a house structure modifies sound, especially in the resonance of low frequency sounds. 

Mr Harding concluded with a 'rule of thumb' table that he has dervived from observation and experience which indicates how far a house could be reasonably located from a turbine for acceptable amenity. With respect to the Devon North WEF, running MM92 turbines at reduced mode of 1.8 kW, we would be looking at around 900 metres. 

[Mr Harding emphasises this is not a 'standard' to be adopted, but more an indication for cause of concern resulting in a more specific evaluation of the specific situation. He has already indicated that no accoustic measurement can determine the acceptibility or otherwise of noise emissions. The 900 metre 'boundary' can be easily rated to the neighbouring residents of the proposed Devon North WEF. ]

 Ms Lardner cross-examined. 

There was some discussion as to why the NZ Standard had been adopted, and the existence of other standards.  There was some discussion regarding terminology, and the relevance of variable pitch blades.

[My understanding of variable pitch blades on the wind turbine is that they have the capacity to reduce noise. They are apparently a recent innovation, and are present in the turbines at Toora which I think are model MM84. Their relevance is in relation to the study of previous monitoring figures based on fixed pitch turbines, which, it is assumed, would have register a lower accoustic reading had they been variable pitched blades. Variable pitch blades have important significance with relation to the never, speed controllable turbines (such as the MM92), whereby they can be run in a 'reduced mode' which sets the maximum turbine speed by software control. In so doing the turbine would run at lower than its rated compacity - a figure of 1.82 mW  was mentioned for the MM92, compared to its 2mW capacity. This would of course reduce the potential electrical output when run in reduced mode, as compared with the unrestricted maximum (normal) mode. I have not established if the software is pre-set in the turbine on installation, or whether it can be programmed, ie altered or disabled, by remote electonic means. It appears that the 1.8mW maximum rating could be further reduced (or increased), and the concern is that if the WEF permit is conditional on running on reduced mode, how is this monitored to the satisfaction of others than Synergy Wind.]

Tim Peggie cross-examination.

Mr Peggie requested further detail on the location and operation of the transformer kiosk. 

Mr Chiappi cross-examined.

Mr Chiappi asked about the noise generation of the transformer kiosk (at the base of each tower). Mr Harding expressed little concern for the noise to be emitted by the transformer. 

[Mr Harding mentioned something about the transformer being three-phase, thus implying no noise. I have not conformed the meaning of this. There is annecdotal evidence from Steve garito and Tom Reakes that transformer noise at Toora is significant. The question of kiosk noise was further raised in Mr Marks' submission the following day. It is my opinion that further information needs to be obtained regarding  the potential for 'kiosk noise'. It must be noted that from photographs submitted to the tribunal, the kiosk does appear to be a pre-fabricated tin shed, and I am sure there must be a concern for additional noise to emanate from the kiosk structure itself, resulting from the source noise of electro-magnetic vibration of the transformer. I have no further data on this at present. It is significant that Synergy Wind appear not to have presented any specification for the transformer nor kiosk. Mr Marks from marshall Day was (later) questioned on the inclusion or otherwise of the kiosk in determining sound levels at the various properties monitored. More on this later.]

12.20 Lunch.


Submission by Melinda Neist

[Mrs Neist is a resident owner of a neighbouring property immediately to the east of the proposed WEF landowners property. Although represented at this hearing by Ms Lardner, it was recognised that Mrs Neist and her family have unique concerns that should be presented to the tribunal with a view to a better understanding by the tribunal. Mrs Neist also has concerns that mirror those of other residents in the vicinity.]

Mrs Neist illustrated her presented with screen presentation of images of her property.

Mrs Neist's additional causes for concern are with respect to the operation of her property, not just as a home, but also in respect to the operation of a tourist and educational related business in a renovated disused dairy on her property, and to the breeding of prize stallions.

Mrs Neist described how she came to purchase the property in 2005, and was most enthusiastic in her description of the beautiful landscape which inspired her and her husband, and to thus settle there from Canberra. Mrs Neist indicated her preference for a property that would further the family aims of horse breeding as well as providing a quiet existence.

Mrs Neist told the tribunal of her concerns that her opportunity to continue to breed prize horses will be compromised by the construction of the seven turbines on the ridge neighbouring her property, all of which will be visible. Mrs Neist expressed concern for the effect on the breeding pairs by the rotational motion of the blades and the shadow flicker that will occur (in the late afternoon). Mrs Neist indicated the relevance of her breeding program to the wellbing and objectives of the family, and to the economic status of the community. Mrs Neist, an international author and artist, also spoke of her art seminars that have been conducted on her premises, the future for which has been seen as limited once the windfarm was announced.  These are also of economic significance to the community. 

Mrs Neist's closing statement, as follows, reflected her concern for adequate pre-construction testing:
"Noise and flicker tests typically select a range of conditions that are a subset of all possible conditions to test or measure impact.  Of course the range selected would be that which is expected to return acceptable or expected results.  Just performing the bare minimum of tests is not enough when results are so close to the borderline in terms of being acceptable. It is not until the wind turbines are in place and subject to the actual environment and operating conditions instead of an assumed "model" environment that we will actually know the real impact of noise and flicker on our homes.

Should the actual conditions prove to be unacceptable in accordance with the adopted or recommended standard, our past experience with Synergy Wind's attitude to and disregard for families surrounding the WEF leads us to believe that they will do absolutely nothing to rectify the problems.  The fact that Synergy Wind has never approached either myself or my husband is a reflection of the value they put on our opinion or objections. This is of particular concern since most of the test results are reported as borderline acceptable, just within standard limits.

My husband works in the risk management field in Australia and internationally.  He often talks about risk needing to be demonstrated as low as reasonably practical.  In my opinion, the level of analysis used to support Synergy's application falls far short of this test of "as low as reasonably practical" in terms of the risk of unacceptable impact on amenity, of noise and flicker on our homes and properties.  When it is my amenity and lifestyle, and that of my family and friends that is at risk, I need to know that everything that can be done has been to assure the risk is acceptable, but currently I don't see that as being the case."

Mr Chiappi questioned.

Mr Chiappi asked if Mrs Neist was aware of any lawful development that could occur on nearby properties at the time she purchased the property.  Mrs Neist said that she was advised that a 'windfarm; had been proposed but she was unaware of any detail at the time, and that her experience with wind turbines was those of much smaller individual units in Canberra. 

[This raises a determination that I have made previously called 'the right of reasonable expectancy'. It must be appreciated that in all aspects of societial living, laws are required to preserve the society and to ensure well-being for all within the society. But we cannot govern our life entirely by formal written laws, nor would it be expected that laws could govern every aspect and expection of life. We therfore speak of doing 'what is right', often interpreted as a moral consideration, sometimes encourged by religious belief, but usually by the simple understanding of our place in society. To this end we can also consider what it is reasonaable to expect of others, as individuals, and businesses and as governments. We may well be disillusioned at times, but that does not diminish our right to 'reasonable expectancy' - the right to expect that others will do 'the reasonable thing'. What that 'reasonable thing' may be is of course open to interpretation, but again, it does not diminish our right to expect the reasonable thing. Take an example within the current considerations of the proposed WEF. Mrs Neist bought her property with significance influnce by the lanscape dominated by the hils that are subject to the proposed WEF. Would it be reasonable for her at the time, to expect that this landscape would not be significantly altered? The answer is ambiguous. Yes, it can be expected that the hill could be planted with pine forest, considering the use of the surrounding landscape. No, to any consideration that the hill would be used for any form of industrial complex, such as a WEF. That is to be reasonably expected.] 

2.50 Short break.

3.05 pm

Submission by Dennis Williamson. Scenic Sprectrum.  Expert witness called by Ms Lardner, action for CRDN. Written submission available on pdf format.

Mr Williamson made several initial statements and clarifications:

- Scenic Integrity is the extent to which the curreent or desired landscape chaaracter and scenic quality levels would be maintained given a proposed alteration.
- Devon North a 'high quality' place to live.
- One kilometer distance is generally accepted as the limit to visual impact. 

Mr Williamson presented his key findings, in summary:
-  the existing Pastoral Landscape Charachter of Devon North would not be maintained if the proposed WEF be approved;
- the Scenic Integrity and Visual Dominance that would result would not meet desirable performance standards;
- mittigation (by planting) is not a staisfactory solution;
- the effect of the proposed WEF on scenic quality would be undesirably negative to the landscape of Devon North;
- the turbines would tower above  nearby dwellings unless set back at least one kilometer, and others at this and greater distance would has a substantial intrusion into their field of view;
- the proposed WEF location does not adverselt affect the regionaal significance of the landscape although the hill has a signifance to the residents who live in the immediate area;
- aviation hazard lighting could create a highly significant night-time visual impact on residents.

Mr Williamson recognised that although is Farming Zone, there are many small holdings where residents enjoy the rural lifestyle. 

Mr Williamson stated," I would support the Wellington Shire Council's decision to refuse a planning permit for the proposed WEF, If the WEF is approved, there wwill be, in my opinion a significant negative impact on the local visual aamenity and on the lifestyles and aspirations of maany people in the Devon North area."

Mr Williamson then spoke in more detail about the location and the planning context. 

Mr Williamson's submission included assements made by DLC consulting in Germany, and and Hansen Partnerships. Mr Williamson noted that DLC raised the matter of shadow flicker, "which may be felt uncomfortably in the interior of buildings.

[Shadow flicker seems to have taken a back seat to visual amenity and noise at this hearing. It is to be noted that the Victorian Government WEF Guidelines allow for an acceptable level of 30 hours of flicker per year.  Evaluations of potential flicker sites divide the statistics into 'worst case' and 'real case scenarios', an arguably acceptable methodoligy considering the vagueness of the study. Vic WEF guidelines do not indicate where the arbitary figure of 30 hrs/annum emerged, and does not define this average over any specific shorted period of time expect rto state that shadow flicker must not exceed thirty minutes per day. Synergy Wind stated in their initial application report that should the acceptable limit of shadownw flicker be exceeded, the delinquent turrbine(s) would be turned off. I for one have no confidence that would occur, and fail to see how Synergy Wind could implement such a procedure. I would interpret such a claim as another example of Synergy Wind's  cavalier attitude as Ms Lardner describes.]

Mr Williamson demonstrated concern at the method of determining viual intrusion, and the position of resident site photographs, offered by Steven Schutt in the Hansen Report, sighting several examples to illustrate his concerns. Mr Williamson added that, "In general, the visual assessment procedures used  (by  Schutt) in both assessments are incomplete and not comprehensive assessments when compared with other procedures available....", and he continues to list eight deficiencies. 

[Mr Schutt's submission will be heard on Day 4 of the tribunal, set for 6 September 2007.]

It is interesting to note that Mr Williamson expreses concern on a more personal matter for the attitude of Mr Schutt (as expressed in the Hansen Report), when he comment, "The impersonal reference to potential viewers as 'receptors', as if everything is an engineering exrcise that has nothing to do with potential effects on real people." 

Mr Williamson noted that there was, in the Hansen Report, "An unreasonablee focus on views from inside or immediately adjaacent to the dwellings of the objectors, not recognising that these are not 'indoor orieented people' but 'outdoor oriented people". They have chosen to live where they live in order to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle in a rural environment."

[Whereas this is true comment, there appears to be a lack of consideration on both the part of Mr Williamson and Mr Schutt to recognise and include a factor of 'time', especially when related to the viewshed from indoors. By way of example, I, together with Mr and Mrs Heibert of Bolgers Road, enjoy a constant view of the landscape from the windows of our predominant living rooms. I have a cosnatnt view of the 'Helleren Hill' (where the proposed WEFs are to be located) from my family room, when standing or seated, during all daylight hours. Indeed, my family and I frequently enjoy the marvellous light on the hills from the rising and setting sun. I, and Mr Heibert, constructed our prime living area to take this advantage. Therefore, I regard our Visual Impact as 'Extreme' (not just 'Substantial', as per the Hansen Report, because of its continual intrusion. One could qualify this by indicating that our north-facing patio, immediately next to the family room, as a 'Substantial' impact (not Extreme) because of its occasional (but frequent) use. Scenic Spectrums use a different 'visual impact grading system' than Hansens, but the concept is similar, and neither consider time/duration.]

Mr Williamson quotes in his submission, "I would respectfully, but strongly disagree with Mr Schutt's statement on page six of his Satement that the proposed WEF 'does not substantially alter the inherent landscape charaacter of the views'. Although a relatively small number of wind turbines is prroposed, each turbine is massive in size compaared to any other type of alteration or development currently occuring within the lanscape.", and he notes that Hansen's montages themselves demonstrate this. 

Mr Williamson's submission includes further comment on scenic integrity, sceneic quality, the fallicy of ammelioration by planting, distance viewing and panoramic views, the cumulative visual effect, high sensitivity residential viewpoints, and aviation lighting. 

Mr Williamson concluded his submission with much of the salient points previously mentioned:
- the Pastoral Character of the landscaape;
- the overal Scenic Integrity and Visual Dominance;
- the concern that planting is not a viable means of mitigation of the visul impact;
- the acceptance or otherwise of what may appear as a 'reasonable distance of a dwelling from a turbine';
- the visual impact of aviation lighting. 

Mr. Chiappi cross-examination.

Mr Chiappi questioned the relative impact on visual amenity in terms of the angle that the subject of the intrusion would make in comparison to the overall viewpoint. This did not seem to lead anywhere.

[I think that what Mr Chiappi was getting at is the relative signifiacnce of the visual impact based on a consideration of the percentage of the view that is so affected. For example, if we consider a lateral (horizontal) view of equal visual quality in an outdoor situation, it could be seen that we would have about a ninety degree angle of view. If we then place a structure, such as a building, or a row of windtowers, within this structure, we can perhaps measure that intrusion by considering the angle of view that the extermities of the structure presents. Let us say that this is 20 degrees. We could then say that, empiracally and mathematically, that our view is obstricted by 2/9 ths, that is about 22%. In other words, less than a quarter of the view is obstructed. It could be argued that this is not significant, and indeed, a 'standard' could be set that directs a numerical figure below which is totally accepted and thus there is no significant visual impact. There are several major flaws to this argument. One is that the reduction of visual amenity is not simply based on the 'blocking out' of the original landscape. Concern must be given to the structure itself, its shape and acceptance as a structure, and particularly in the case of awindturbine, if it moves. A tree is generally more acceptable than a windtower (hence the suggestions that trees be planted to ameliorate the visual intrusion of a windfarm). Consideration must also be given to what landscape feature is blocked out. Also, if the above simple mathematical model be used, there is no consideration that there is greater visual impact if the obstruction is directly central to the view, rather than to one side within peripheral vision. And finally, the whole model collapses when we appreciate that a view is a 'total vision' - we do not, indeed cannot, simply block off part of our view, irrespective of how physically minor. Thus to even question the visual angle of any  obstruction is immaterial. Incidentally, I was advised by Mr Schutt that one method of determining visual impact was to obtain a photograph other after the visual intrusion (or create a montage), and then to count the number of pixels of the delinquent object. This numerical figure is then compared as a percentage to the pixel count of the whole image. Mr Schutt agrees that this would be absurd. ]



Submission, Joanne Lardner, representing CRDN.

Submission of the Devon North Residents in Opposition to the Application for Review. Part II.

Ms Lardner commences her submission with the comment that "There are a number of reasons why this proposal fails to recommend itself as an appropriate l;ocation for the construction and location of a WEF."

Ms Lardner lists three major impacts:
- by the introduction of a caablee trwench throughout the prroposed site significantly increase the risk of landslips and bboth short and long termerosion of the prroposed site and surrounds through diversion and concentration of surface water;
- result in unacceptable noise levels; and
- result in an unacceptable impact on the scenic integrity and quality of some members of the Devon North community.

Ms Lardner outlined several required from an umber of guidelines, indicating where the guidelines have been breached by the proponent. "It is submitted that the applicant has paid scant regard to the capacity of the proposed site to accommodate the WEF beyond being drawn to its location in terms of potential wind generation."

Ms Lardner noted that the proponent had the opportunity to amend their application with a fresh site analysis and design response, yet the applicant did not see fit to supply details on a number of infrastructure, ecological and technical matters. Ms Lardner mentioned that in regard to the topography analysis, the applicant'ss report states that the ".... windfarm site is located in a hilly area". Ms lardner notes a number of irregularities in previous advice to the tribunal, and states that, "It is submitted that this lack of clarity is another indication of the scaant regard the applicant has paid to the particularities of the proposed site." 

Ms Lardner comments on previous submissions that some (geological) matters could be delayed till post-contruction, suggesting that these were inappropriate. Ms Lardner quted from a report on the Mt Mercer Wind Farm Panel report. 

Ms Lardner stated,
"It is lamentable that it has been left to the Devon North community to highlight the potential for landslip and erosion resulting from the construction and operation of the proposed  WEF."

[Landslip was initially recognised by Mr O'Neill when he saw aerial photographs taken by a CRDN member.]

Ms Lardner made note that there was (in previous testimony) an inappropriate reliance on greening (the planting of trees) as a mitigating factor in reducing visual amenity. 

 Ms Lardner requested the Tribunal to give regard to the following:
- the comparatively small contribution which the proposed WEF would make to the reduction of greenhouse emissions;
- avaiation lighting; and
- the surrounding road network. 

Ms Lardner indicated that the applicant in failing to "... secure the views of the Sustainable Energy Association of Victoria is significant. Even accepting the applicant's material; at face value, it is submitted that the controbuition is small when comparisons are made with other WEFs".

Ms Lardner suggested the Tribunal consider how smaller WEFs impact on requirements as laid down by the the guidelines. "Greater number of smaller WEFs means that greater numbers of individual local communities are being impacted for smaller but more numerous contributions  to greenhous gas reduction".

[This is a most important observation, and I hope it was not lost on the Tribunal. It may be explained as follows, but would have taken up valuable time. (By now it appeared that the three-day allocation for the hearing would be insufficient). Anyway, lets have a go at it. It can be illustrated both in a mathematical sense, and in abstract visualisation. Image a large farm that can accomodate ninty windturbines. Lets say that it is a square property for ease of visualisation. Around that farm are a number of similar sized farms, (which is quite likely) which would mean maybe eight farms, some perhaps sharing just a one-side boundary, or perhaps a point boundary - that is immaterial. Each of these farms has a residence, randomly located on each property. Without even applying any mathematics, it is apparent that there could be eight neighbour homes surrounding the proposed WEF, at an average distance of about half the width of the properties. Now, consider nine smaller proposed WEFs of ten turbines each, scattered across the country. Assuming that each of the smaller WEF properties is square, they would have an area of one nineth of the larger windfarm. Draw a large square and divide it into nine squares like one face of a Rubics cube. Now consider each of these small windfarms spread across the countryside, the total of which contain the same number of turbines as the one big WEF. Consider the total boundary of all the combined windfarms. You will find that the total boundary of all the smaller nine windfarms is three times that of the larger windfarm. Therefore, nine small windfarms will provide a boundary area of three times the boundary area of one large windfarm with the same number of turbines (assuming same proportional dimensions, eg square as in this model). What is the significance of this. It means that there is a greater potential for a greater number of neighbours, and therefore a great number of residents, and thus a greater number of potential complainants whose amenity is affected. Indeed, if we again assume similar lot sizes around the smaller WEF property, we would have again eight neighbouring residents to each small WEF, and a whopping total of seventy two neighbouring residents to a WEF, where the total turbines of all WEFs is still ninety. Remember, there would be only eight neighbours if the ninety turbines were on the one property. Furthermore, the residences within each of the neighbouring properties would be on average a third less closer to the nearest turbine than a residence neighbouring the larger WEF. And again, a smaller lot zoning as in the example of the nine smaller WEFs would  in reality be likely to contain even smaller neighbouring lots, and thus more residences (as it is with Devon North), all within a potential loss of amenity peripheral.  Isn't it clearly much better then to have one large windfarm than many smaller windfarms. Think also of the electrical infrastructure that would be required in the model provided. This example is relevant  to the Devon North proposed WEF. The Helleren property of 100 acres (check) is surrounded by equally large or larger properties, as well as a number of much smaller holdings. It is these smaller holdings that contain residences which oppose the WEF because of their proximity to the turbines. Had all the neighbouring properties been of a similar size to the Helleren property, the magnitude of the concern would be considerably diminished simply because there would be less residences, and those that did exisst would be, on average, theoretically, further distant from the nearest turbine. This is one simple obvious reason why the Devon North windfarm should not be permitted.]

At some point in te proceedings (I did not record when), Ms Lardner tabled a table of statistics of ten windfarms, showing size, number of turbines, and neighbour dwelling proximity.

[It is interesting to review this table with respect to the model described above. Of three large windfarms of 2550 to 5445 hectares of 64 to 183 turbines, the total number of houses within a three kilometer distance is  66 = average 22 houses per windfarm; where as two smaller windfarms on 120 and 570 hectares with seven and  21 turbines have a total of 92 houses = average 45 houses per windfarm. Even more inyeresting is that  of these three large windfasrms, only three residences are within one kiloemtre of a windfamr (all the same windfarm), whilst there are nineteen residences within a kilometer of the two smaller windfarms. The figures are significant.]

On the matter of the road network, Mrs Lardner offered concern for the inadequacy of Bolgers Road specifically, and stated that:
"It is submitted that approval of the proposal would give rise to a number of challenges in terms of both traffic management and road capacity that have not been resolved."

[Although Ms Lardner mentions the neecessary widening of the road and removal of trees and vegetation, an obvious concrn for safety, it would be wise to emphasise the safety concerns for Bolgers Road.]

Mrs Lardner made several important points in her conclusions, here condenced and paraphrased:
- the fact that Synergy Wind continues to refer to the proposal as the Yarram Wind Farm, when it is clearly the Devon North windfarm, ".... heralds the arrival of what was essentially a foreign wind energy company looking to capitalise on the Victorian Government's strong support for renewable energy". Mrs lardner offers no criticism of Synergy Wind for doing so, but criticises the manner in which they have gone about it. "Whilst the Tribunal will be left in no doubt as to the level of frustraation that is felt within the Devon North community concerning the lack of consultation they have encountered, this of itself iss not determinative of the application. However, it is symptomatic of what may be described as a cavalier approach to the need to balance the strong support for WEFs in this State with the impacts on the local community and the capability of the land to accommodate the proposed WEF."

Ms Lardner states that this cavalier approach by Synergy Wind is demonstrated by:
-  its failure to commission at the outset either a geological or a geotechnical assessment as to the impact of he proposed WEF on the existing conditions of the proposed site and its surrounds;
- the consistent failure or refusal to appreciate or recognise that the proposed site is not proximate to Yarram but rather to Devon North;
- the failure to acknowledge and consider appropriately the ramifications of Devon North being recognised by the planning scheme as one of eight main rural residential areas located in the Wellington Shire;
- the failure to provide as is required by the guidelines an explanation as to the proposed site as suitable compared to other potential sites in the area;
- the decision of the applicant not to augment its expert evidence to address the additional parties who sought to be joined to this proceeding following circulation of an amended plan and statements of expert evidence; and
- the failure of the applicant to look beyond compliance with the New Zealand Standard and make an assessment of the probable loss of amenity through noise impact at potentially affected residences.

Ms Lardner advised the tribunal again that the Devon North community have not participated in the proceeding because its members oppose WEFs persay, but "Rather, as they have undertaken the task of gaining an understanding of the planning framework within which applications such as this are assessed, they have become increasingly concerned.  That concern has led to the seeking of expert advice and the subsequent decision to present their concerns to this Tribunal."

[I and the CRDN have indeed been frustarted by the refusal of Christian Spitzner to meet with us, neither collectively nor individually, nor did he involve himself in the so-called open day in December 2005. His approach has been one of total arrogance. But in being so, CRDN members have undertaken to educate themselves to the issues of wind energy, to the exstent of visiting other WEFs, interviewing people within the wind energy industry, communicating with AusWEA, communicating with Federal and State politicians, communicating with local government, expressing their views in the press, discussing issues with opponents of wind energy as represented by several other groups,  encouraging site visits, attempting to communicate with the proposed WEF landowners, reading as much literature as possible including popular press articles and formal conference papers, shire judgements and tribunal papers. I would suggest that tjousands of hours have been spent in this pursuit. They have at all times acted professionally, and with utmost courtesy, even when verbally and physically confronted by (one of) the proposed WEF landowners.  Our success in presenting our concerns to the Tribunal has been largely because the CRDN have worked together with individual tasks, the results of which have all combined for the common cause.]

Ms Lardner summarises with three simple conclusions:
-  the proposed location of the Devon North Wind Farm is not appropriate;
-  the proposal will not deliver a net community benefit; and
-  the proposal does not represent sustainable development.

"In the circumstances, the Tribunal is respectively requested to refuse the application to review Council's decision to refuse a permit and confirm the decision of Council that a permit not issue."

10.10 am

Mr Paul Chiappi presented a brief submission. No written copies were made available to the gallery.

Mr Chiappi provided details of Synergy Wind ownership (an investor in germany), and the cost of the Devon North WEF - $40 million plus $5 million for grid-connection infrastructure. 

Mr Chiappi advised that it was a 'third party' who advised Synergy Wind of the suitability of the (Hellweren) land for a WEF. No name was given.

[My comment - it appears that the Hellerens approached Synergy Wind, or their German parent company.]

Mr Chiappi advised that Synergy Wind spoke with officers of the Wellington Shire in 2005, and that support for the pro[osed WEF was 'given in principle', but with no committment. 

Mr Chiappi advised that a wind monitoring tower was erected in 2005 on the Helleren property. He mentioned that it 'came down' due 'perhaps to local opposition'. 

Mr Chiappi advised that initially nine turbines, of Repower Model MM82, was proposed, but subsequently reduced to seven turbines of model MM92.

[It was May 2005 when the Hellerens advised some members of the community that they were proposing to construct a windfarm. I was advised by Mr Helleren that five turbines were to be erected. I was advised by Mr Helleren that "there would be no noise - after all, when the blades are turning the wind russling through the tress will drown out any noise". Mr Helleren also made a passing comment that those who have opposed windfarms (I presumed he was refering to Toora) were "whingers, and most of them are jealous because they did not get them on their land".  I was concerned with ssuch comment, and decided to study the issue of wind energy. This led me to withdraw my initial support for the Helleren's project and participate in  what would evolve as the CRDN coalition. ]

Mr Chiappi said that whereas the Model MM92 turbine was indicated in the application, he requested that  Synergy Wind not be limited to this model and not to be restricted in the opportunity of selecting a newer turbine 'with lower sound generation'.

Mr Chiappi noted that the MM92 can operate in "reduced noise mode", and would do so if the sound emissions contravened the NZ 6808 standard.

[This raises many questions, some of which were mentioned previously. It is interesting that such a model is available as it does demonstrate that noise is a significant issue with turbine operation. Note that reduced speed will not reduce sound emisssions from the transformer kiosk. Sound emission would be reduced by reducing turbine speed (blade rotation speed), and by adjusting the blades (feathering). This would be achieved automatically by computer software, but the trigger and algorithmic criteria have not been stated.]

Mr Chiappi refered to the report prepared by Virginia Jackson, and tabled a 'Ready Reckoner Converter' extraacted from the guidelines offered by the Sustainabile Energy Association of Victoria. 

[This convenient 'ready reckoner' converts anticipated megawat outputs into figures that can sway the public with simple figures that show how many houses can be serviced by the WEF, how many cars can be 'out off the road', how much greenhouse gases can be eliminated, and the like. It is a powerful emotive tool that translates much of the technical specifications of wind energy into simple figures that the sinple mind can interpret. The interpretation is invariably false, as no cars are put off the road, no houses are directly serviced by individual WEFs (the power goes into the grid), and in the instance of a small WEF in Gippsland, there is  no reduction in the consumption of coal and hence no greenhouse gases are 'saved'). 


Submission by Michael Marks of Marshall Day Accoustics, representing Synergy Wind.

[Background: Marshall Day were initially commissioned by Synergy Wind to undertake sound monitoring on a number of neighbouring sites to the Devon North WEF. Some neighbours refused entry to their property. The figures gathered were then sent to DL Consulting in Germany for analysis, and it was a DLC report which was included in the initial Permit Application made by Synergy Wind. in 2006 Perhaps needless to say, the DLC report was most favourable the proposed WEF. There was considerable criticism of the DLC report by objectors to the proposed WEF. In the ammended Application submitted by  Synergy Wind earlier this year, the main accoustic report was prepared by Marshall Day Accoustics. Hence the presence of Mr Marks who is an associate of Marshall Day.]

Mr Marks will refer to the Fearnside Report, the initial report prepared by Marshall Day for Synergy Wind. 

[I do not know if Mr Marks read from a submission. I do not have a copy.]

Mr Marks abvised that NZ 6808 standard was used and adopted by the Victoria Government. He asserted the view that he believes that it "provides a satisfactory amenity". he later made direct comment that if tthe noise levels in a home were within the NZ6808 standard there "would be no loss of amenity". 

[What I believe Mr Marks means is that in his opinion, the NZ standard offers a suitable measure as to what is an acceptable noise level in respect to emissions from wind turbines. This is demonstrated in simple terms) by a line graph showing noise levels aginst windspeeds frequencies. It provides that an 'acceptable noise level' is 5 dBA above background noise level or a minimum of 40 dBA. There is conjecture as to whether this 'forty or plus five' standard is reasonable in determining what is or is not acceptable (by a neighbour at a residence). Thus to suggest that it "provides a satisfactory amenity" means that in Mr Marks opinion, if the  overall noise level is below that of the level set for the particualar wind speed by the NZ standard, then it is acceptable, and, presumably, there are no grounds for complaint. This is a contentious issue, as what is acceptable is by its nature a rather arbitary judgement which assumes that all 'listeners' will respond to the particular noise level in the same way, and what may be acceptable to one may indeed not be to another. One could therefore question, why 40dBA? Why not a constant level of 35 dBA irrespective of windspeed? Evaluation of other standards and the acceptance or not of the reasonability of the NZ6808 standard is not of course within the paraameters of the VCAT hearing, it being an established fact that NZ6808 is the standard adopted by the Victorian Government.]

Mr Marks stated that of the eighteen windfarms that he had been involved in, there had been only two complaints, refering to Toora and Wonthaggi. Mr Marks later said that he was not aware of anyone abandoning their home as a result of noise eminating from a WEF. There was an audible sigh of disbelief from the gallery, many of whom knew of such circumstances, and indeed Mr Steve Garito was present in the gallery at the time - he has abandoned his five acre property at Toora because of the noise from the Toora windfarm. 

Mr Marks described the process of gathering the data, and the equations to interpret the data. He (like Mr Harding) mentioned several equations, including those of the NZ 6808 standard. he described how the manufacturers accoustic data for the specific proposed turbine (in this instance Repower MM92) is plotted  aginst windspeed to determine if the noise level is within the selected standard. 

Mr Marks said that below a wind speed of 3 metres/second, the turbines do not operate amnd thus noise levels are not relevant. With high speeds of greater than 8 m/s, "the wind in the trees drowns out any turbine (generated) noise. It is within the 3 to 8 m/s range that is critical."

[There was some discussion as to where the wind speed should be measured - at the turbine, or at the receptor. I am uncertain as to what is required, but I understand that the NZ 6808 standard requires a measurement at the receptor. In the initial DLC report there is no indication that I could see as to where the wind speed measurement was taken. In the graphs provided, it is indicated that the wind speed is measured at 10 metres above ground level. Certainly this was not done at my property. There appears to have been no apparatus to measure windspeed at the receptor, and certainly no structure that would allow a measurement at 10m. It should also be noted that although the turbines may not operate at low wind speed, and thuss there would be no noise emissions during low wind speed, the transformer in the kiosk continues to operate, and could thus continue to emit noise.]

Mr Marks made mention of the operation of the Repower MM92 as being capable of reduced noise mode. 

Mr Marks said that there were two houses where the expected noise levels were close to the NZ 6808 acceptable limit, but they did not exceed that limit.

Mr Marks said that post-construction noise monitoring is recommended.

Mr Marks discussed the characteristics of sound and noise. He said that wind turbines were not tonal, and that the 'swish' noise (made by the compression of air as the blade passes the column) is a  "broadband aero dynamic noise - not a tonal sound.

[See previous re tonal sounds, Mr Harding's submission. Tonal sounds have "a clear characteristic frequency that dominates over the surrounding sound".]

Mr Marks said that the sound monitoring evaluation did not take into account the seasons, refering to the fact that there were no deciduous trees as all were pine forest or eucalypts. 

[The relevance here is of course the changing environment in autumn and winter where deciduous tress loose thir leaves, thus reducing their capacity to 'block' noise. Mr Marks was negligent in his  observations as my residence, for one, is 'protected' in the north-west by two very large deciduous trees, an Oak and a Silver birch. Their 'noise protective ability' will be greater in the spring and summer months .]

Mr Marks commented on the potential noise levels at two properties where there is a potential for homes to be built, and named the Dohnt and Vyner properties. (Sharon Dohnt has applied for a permit to build). Mr Marks recommended that the Dohnt home be "built outsiode the line" - referring to a noise level contour line. (presumably the noise contour line representing the NZ 6808 acceptable level. 


Mr Peggie cross-examination of Mr Marks.

Mr Peggie questiond the height of turbine 4 noticing a discrepency in reports, and the location of other turbines. Mr Peggie conformed that the turbine transformer is outside (the column) of the MM92, and is located in a 'kiosk'. He questioned Mr Marks as to whether the kiosk (transformer) is part of the manufacturers specifications (of the Repower MM92).

[It was not clear to me whether Mr Marks' answered in the affirmative or not. Thus I am not clear as to whether the manufacturer's data as used to determine if the noise emissions are below the NZ standard, includes the noise that would be emitted from the transformer. I have the impression, which couldd easily be wrong, that Mr Marks did not know. There appeared to be agreement that the transformer would emit a noise even when the turbine was not operating (more specifically, when the blade was not turning, as it would be more correct to suggest that when a turbine was not operating, it would also mean that the transformer was not operating, ie turned off).]

Mr Marks said that he did not know what the noise of the transformer would be. 

Mr Marks said that the turbines must operate in reduced noise mode (in order to meet the NZ 6808 standard). 

Mr Peggie expressed interest at the circumstances of the Vandenburg Effect, and asked Mr Marks if this had been taken into consideration in his evaluation of proposed noise levels. Mr Marks said that the Vandenburg Effect was relevant to the operation of turbines at the Dutch/German border where the land was extremely flat, and would have no relevance (in respect to Devon North WEF). On further questioning, Mr Marks said that he had not observed the Vandenberg in Australia (meaning by inference that he was not aware of it in Australia), and stated that it was unlikely to have occured in Ausstralia. Mr Peggie was insistent in asking if it could happen at Devon North to which Mr Marks replied that "it was possibly". 

[The Vandenburg Effect is written up in a paper prepared in 2003 by Frits G.P. Van den Borg in the Netherlands. From what I can gather, it refers to the fact that sound levels "near a wind turbine park at night  were much higher than expected", and the observation made that this was caused by strong winds at hub height "especially when at ground level there is little wind, which is quite usual at night". It also appears that the noise may be a "pulse-like sound". The report states, "As wind turbines become taller, the discrepancy between real and expected levels grows and as more tall wind turbines are constructed complaints may become more widespread.". Why this effect could not have occured in Australia is beyond my understanding but Mr Marks' comments may have derived from the fact that some studies were done on turbines with nacelles at 100metres. The report however indicates the effect was first observed on turbines with nacelle heights of 56 metres. (The proposed Devon North WEF have nacelles at 80m).]

On questioning by Mr Peggie, Mr Marks said he had "done up to fifty windfarms". On questioning by Ms Lardner, Mr Marks said that this (Devon North WEF) was his first windfarm evaluation. 

Ms Lardner cross-examined.

Ms Lardner asked Mr Marks if it was Marshall day who recommended the reduction of the proposed Devon North WEF from nine to seven turbines. I cannot verify his reply as Mr Marks answer was not clear to me, but this appears to be the case. 

[This would have resulted from the re-evaluation of the noise data by Marshall Day, who had  'taken over' from DLC as the accoustic consultants to provide an evaluation for the ammended application for Synergy Wind. Note that the source data of background noise would be the same data as presented to Marshall Day and to DLC (as there was only one monitoring period, on my property at least). It is surmised that in preparing their report, Marshall Day recognised that two of the nine turbines would have been in such a position as to exceed the acceptable standard as laid down in NZ6808, and thus they had to be relocated. But as the Helleren property is of a finite dimension, there was no alternative but to eliminate two turbines, and relocate some or all of the other seven. Considering also that Marshall Day have advised that they are working off manufacturer's specifications for the reputedly quieter model MM92,  it begs the question as to how inaccurate were the evaluations made by DLC in Germany. Maybe DLC extended the definition of 'line of best fit', to be a 'line of best fit that suits the client'. This is of course pure speculation on my part but if it could be proved that DLC were negligent in their accoustic evaluations, it throws a serious doubt as to their credibility in providding shadow flicker studies. I already believe they were indeed incompetent in their evaluation of shadow flicker, based on the source data that they used.]

Ms Lardner raised a question regarding the requirements of the NZ 6808 standard in respect of where the pre-construction sound monitoring equipment should be located. There was extensive debate on this question in respect to the required ddistance from the residence, which I read at being at least five metres (which indeed it was at my property). Prhaps of more relevance is that Ms Lardner raised the question of the requirements of the NZ 6808 in terms of which properties need to be monitored. The NZ standard, as I understand it from Ms Larner's dialogue, is that "the nearest property to a turbine" needs to be monitored. This was detrmined by Mr Mrks as being the Davis property.

[This is fascinating, and demonstrates that Synergy Wind did not comply with the NZ 6808 standard in that they did not, by way of Marshall Day Accoustics, monitor the sound at the Davis property.  The property of neville Davis is that which runs due south of Ingles Road, and straddles Stoney Creek. The closest turbine would have been number 8 (I need to check this) immediately behind the Helleren home, and this would inded have been the closest turbine to any neighbouring property. Note that there is no qualification that a residence needs to be the closest - it is the propwerty boundary on which the residence is located. Neville Davis' property is an estimated 1500 metres away, and would, arguably, suffer little loss of amenity by the proposed WEF, although noise may be a problem as it travelss through a low valley to the home. Now, it mkusst be appreciated that Mr Davis is an old man, not in the best of health, and has been befriended by Graeme Helleren for many years. I am suree that Mr Heleren would not have expected any opposition from Mr Davis to the proposed WEF, and hence Mr Davis' property was not considered relevant in the application. This however is immaterial, and the NZ 6808 standard has been contravened. One can only speculate as to whether Marshall Day were aware of the relevance of the Davis property, or whether Mr Helleren advised Marshall Day that there was no need to noise monitor the Davis property because "the old man would not complain". Incidentally, it is the Davis property across which the connecting electrical cable must cross in order to reach the main grid. I can only assume that Mr Davis is aware of this, and has given his permission. I have heard nothing to the contrary.]

Ms Lardner was at pains to encourage Mr Marks to understand that , according to NZ6808, two monitoring positions were required on each property: one at the nearest proprty boundary, and one at least five metres from the residence. The key word was in the relevant clause in NZ6808 was 'and'. Mr Marks indicated that there was only one monitoring site on the properties so monitored. 

Ms Lardner required Mr Marks to indicate to the tribunal where these monitoring devises were located on each of the (four) properties so monitored. Mr Marks produced photographs showing the monitors in position, however there were no identifying features in these close-up photographs that could identify the relationship of the monitoring device to the property boundary, nor to the residence. (Incidentally, the photographs did not show any wind measuring instrument at the receptor point). 

Ms Lardner questioned Mr Marks on technical data relevant to the reports by Marshall Day Accoustics. Of interest was the precedure of measuring in 1/3 or full octive ranges, and the difference in evaluation that the two procedures would provide. Mr Marks said that the difference would be insignificant (or words to that effect).

[This refers to the quantity of sampling data taken, which in turn leads to the quality of the final evaluation. It is my understanding that the full hearing range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, may be broken up into some eight octive ranges. For those understanding music, an octive is the range from A to G on the music scale. Thus to take readings at the full occtive range would be to take eight readings to cover the full audible range. To take reading at the 1/3 octive range means that 24 readings would be taken. As reading over the full octive range, and over the 1/3 octive range, are averaged, it means that the 1/3 octive recoring method is more representative of a range of tones, and will highlight a predominant tonwe which perhaps would have been hidden by averaging  over a full tone. To what importance this has on monitoring of rural background noise I have no idea.]

Mr Marks advised that the algorithm used to determine the expected noise at a receptor (neighbour's property) would be based on the 50/50 ground principle, ie there was 50% soft ground terrain and 50% hard ground terrain between the turbine and receptor. It appears that NZ6808 assumes 100% hard terrain. I could not grasp the relevance of this except that it raised another doubt as to the veracity of the Marshall Day figures.

Mr Marks was questioned extensively on noise contour marks as represnted on a tabled map. This appeared to lead nowhere (my comment).

Ms Lardner asked Mr Marks his views on the nuisance value of turbine noise. Mr Marks said that he had not considered the nuisance factor. Mr Marks said that the trubines ,"...were not silent and that it would be a mistake to think so." Mr Marks said that, ".... some people will find them (the turbines) annoying, others wont. The only thing we can do is use the New Zealand standard."

Asked again if he was aware of any complaints (regarding noise), Mr Marks repeated that in his experience of eighteen windfarms, there had been only two (that had solicited) a complaint - Toora and Wonthaggi. In respect to Wonthaggi, Mr Marks made a somewhat derogatory comment about a man who objected by lying in front of a tractor, and implied by voice intonation that this man would complain of anything. In further questioning, Mr Marks said there was no complaint of noise (from Wonthaggi). In respect to Toora, Mr Marks named Mr Garito as having constantly complained of noise, and that he had expected to become a stakeholder (implying that this was the reason for his grievance and complaints).

[In subsequent followup, I have determined that the main complainant re noise at Wonthaggi is a woman, and there are no reports of anyone lying down in front of a tractor. In respect to Mr (Steve) Garito, he and wife Jayne own a five acre property with the nearest turbine some 450 metres. Mr. Garito advises that he never expected to be a stakeholder as his residential property was too small and he was too close to the road. Mr Garito and his wife no longer live in their residence near the Toora Windfarm.]

In responce to a question by Ms Lardner to Mr Marks, "Did you rely on the DLC report (as presented by Synergy Wind in their initial application), Mr Marks replied "No". Ms Lardner asked, "Why not?".  To which Mr Marks replied, "Perhaps out German is not so good."

Ms Lardner questioned matters pertaining to the (transformer) kiosk. Mr marks said again that they would operate even if the turbines were not, and that he had not measured (the noise from) the transformers without the turbines operating. Ms Lardner asked, "would that not be a reasonable requirement?".  I did not pick up Mr marks' response. 

[I seem to have missed a point here - had Mr Marks done actual measurements on existing, operating, transformers. This may have been done overseas?]

Ms Lardner questioned Mr Marks as to which point the wind speed was measured at the recording of background noise - at the turbine or at the receptor. I could not decipher Mr Marks reply as he was becoming quite testy at this time. 

12.50 pm.

Tom Reakes posed several questions to Mr Marks. Mr Reakes asked Mr marks if he was aware that Mr garito had abandoned his home, and was he aware of other families who had moved out. Mr Marks replied thaat he was not so aware. 

Mr Reakes asked Mr Marks if he was aware of a 'noise complaint hotline' that had been established (by the operators of the Toora Windfarm, Stanwell Corporation, and the South Gippsland Shire. I am uncertain of Mr Marks' reply. Mr Reakes asked Mr Marks if he was aware of any adverse health issues (resulting from a WEF), to which Mr Marks replied that he did not. Mr Reakes mentioned his concern for the healthnof his wife. 

Mr Reakes  raised a question re post-construction monitoring, to which Mr Marks suggested that this was a very good idea. To a question that I did not specifically record, but referred to post-construction noise monitoring at Toora, Mr Marks replied that "Garito refused testing on his property". Mr Garoto, who was in the gaallery, cried out "That is a lie". Madam Chair responded imediately and Mr Garito left the hearing. 

[Steve Garito had spent the better part of two days in the gallery and had heard his name mentioned on several occasions, with reference to his complaints about noise. In a later discussion with him that evening, Mr Garito said that he was extremely angry and frustrated and "could not take the lies any longer". He apologised for his outburst. I assured him that the CRDN understood his concerns and were fully supportive of him and his wife, as they have been to the CRDN. Although it was a serious breach of VCAT tribunal protocol, it did serve no doubt to aquaint the tribunal of the emotion that exists in such matters. ]

On further questioning from Mr Reakes as to what action could be taken if, after post-construction monitoring it could be shown that the noise emissions exceeded the acceptable levels as laid down by NZ 6808, Mr Marks  replied that, ".... (they) would have to drop back the turbine or shut down. The operator would be obliged to do something about it."

Mr Reakes asked for further information on the Vandenburg Effect, to which Mr Marks replied that, "... it would not happen at Devon North". 

1.05 pm.

Mr Potts asked several questions, manynof which were inaudible to the gallery. These concerned: ground contours, and post-construction monitoring. To a question posed by Mr Potts, Mr Marks said, "Sometimes results (of post-contruction noisemonitoring) are not released by the client (the turbine operator)."

1.20 pm.

Submission by Virginia Jackson
Called by Mr Chiappi. Ms jackson representing her clien Synergy Wind.

Written submission tabled. Ms Jacksons verbal submission followed her written submission.

Ms Jackson relied considerably on the Municiple Strategy Statement (MSS), and noted that there was a "common thread" throughout this statement that agriculture and rural areas are to be protected and supported.  Ms Jackson said there was aneed to support the rural economy and rural industries. 

Ms Jackson emphasised early in her submission that she supports the establishment of a WEF at Devon North, submitting that the area is  "foremost a Farming Zone".

[Rural zoning in the Wellington Shire changed to a 'Farming Zone' as recently as last month. It appears that this change does not concern the application for the proposed WEF. ]

Ms Jackson said that the area (Helleran propperty for the proposed WEF) was not an important landscape in a planning sence. Ms Jackson did not qualify her meaning of 'important landscape' nor how this was relevant in 'the planning sence'. 

Ms Jackson again raised the matter of economic objectives as mentioned in the MSS. Ms Jackson said that a WEF "guarantees the use of the land fo agricultural use because of the increased income of the farmer, and land will not be used for other purposes."

[One could be forgiven for thinking that we were sitting in a court in Alice's Wonderland.  Here we have the logic of constructing an industrial complex on agricultural land so that it would not be used for anything else but agriculture. Had this absurdity been put to Ms Jackson, she would have no doubt stated that a windfarm is a permitted use of agriculture land and is thus a means of agriculture. It is conceeded that a windfarm allows the continuing use of the land for livestock agriculture. Ms Jackson fails to recognise that another genuine use of the rural land, although still controversial, is that of forestry, and the construction of a WEF certainly prevents the use of land in this regard. This could then be an economical disadvantage to the farmer if forestry is deemed to be more profitable than livestock. It disappoints me to hear 'expert witnesses' raising an issue without looking at all the facts, and demonstrates a lack of professionalism and experience in the witness. Mr Helleren has already recognised the value of his land for a pine plantation, and has made the comment that "if this (WEF) doesn't go ahead I will plant bloody trees". In respect to climate change and the environment, this may be a good idea! ]

Ms Jackson said that in respect to the environment, "considerable weight (must be) given to renewable energy".

Ms Jackson went on to say that,"This land is first and foremost a rural area. Residents take a back seat in any consideration. In my opinion amenity are acceptable. "
"Residents in a rural zone cannot expect the same amenity of consideration as a residential area". 

[I emphasise that these are exact quotes. This sentiment was also reflected  in John Traa's report in recommending the Devon North WEF - cows are important, people are not (my inference). This last statement by Ms Jackson was seized upon by Mr Peggie during his later cross-examination, and is, in my opinion, the major indication that Ms Jackson's reliability as an expert witness was in serious doubt. ] 

Ms Jackson said that she was satisfied that there was no loss of amenity in respect to noise, whereby she accepted Mr Marks' report, and that noise levels would be below the required NZ standard. Ms Jackson said that she relied on the evidencee of Mr Schutt's report and "the impact on the residents" concluding that she was satisfied in respect to visual amenity (that would result from the proposed WEF).

Ms Jackson also mentioned that objectors had raised other concerns, such as fire hazard, and loss of business potential (on a neighbouring property), to which she stated she had "no concerns in my opinion", and that there was "nothing in the planning sence that concerns me".

At this point Mr Chiappi interupted and asked Ms Jacksson if she knew of the concerns of Mrs Neist (in respect to her use of her property for business purposes as presented the previous day). Mr Chiallis asked if there was any "incompatibility" with Mrs neist's concerns with that of the establishemnt of a WEF, to which Ms Jackson replied, "No".

On the matter of land stability, and to a query by Mr Chiappi, Ms Jackson said, "There is no concern", and added that "post-construction (measures0 can recctify (the problem)."

In respect to the potential noise issue, Mr Chiappi noted that Ms Jackson had some pre-construction involvement with the Wonthaggi Windfarm, and asked if she had returned there post-construction. Ms Jackson replied that she had driven past. "I havn't been in there. I didn't hear anything."

Ms Jackson offered her opinion on the relative suitability of large scale WEFs as against a number of small scale WEFs totalling the same number of turbines. Ms Jacksson said, ".... could be a more rigorous assessment on more larger proposals in a broader sence", that the impact of a (larger windfarm) was felt over a wide(r) area, that there is a "different impact" of a larger windfarm than "the view of one turbine", and that (the larger windfarm) "creates a fuzziness on the horizon".

[By now it was apparent to myself that Ms Jackson was somewhat out of her depth as her comments and replies were bordering on the frivolous. This of course may not be the opinion of others, but there was more to come. I hesitate to make such a personal comment but Ms Jackson's submission was of vital impoartance to the hearing as she is presenting the all-important planning issue on behalf of Synergy Wind. One should add that Ms Jackson spoke clearly, with confidence. Ms Jackson clearly did not understand the implications of a number of smaller windfarms compared to one large windfarm of the same capacity, and, probably, never thought of the comparison. See my previous analysis of such a comparison.]


Cross examination by Ms Lardner.

Ms Lardner's first question was, "Have you ever seen a windfarm that you you have not liked?", to which Ms Jackson said "No." Ms Jackson did not attempt to qualify her answer.

Ms Lardner raised a number of issues with Ms Jackson, including the greenhouse gas concern, and turbine capacity.

Ms Lardner raised the issue of the "net community benefit", and asked Ms Jackson, "what are the ingredients of this, what are your conclusions", to which Ms Jackson replied, "I have not weighed up the benefits in a mathematical sence. There are positive aspects in regard to renewable energy policy, and to local economy."

Ms Lardner continued, "Any planning decision should consider the community benefits?", to which Ms Jackson said that there  should be susatinable development "protecting the land for future generations and contributing to renewable energy".

Ms Lardner asked if the NZ standard, although it needs to be met, should be considered with "a more generalized evaluation of the standard" in that it should consider the "broader ramifications".  I dod not record Ms Jackson's reply.

Ms Jackson was asked if (Synrgy Wind) considered other (WEF) sites, to which Ms Jackson replied that they had not.

Ms Lardner raised a number of point issues with Ms Jackson (which I shall summarise with Ms Jacksons abbreviated comment):
- land use: (Ms Jackson) WEF is a permitted land use.
- ecological landscape feature: yes.
- rural-residential lifestyle: agress that it is significant, "but nopt as impoarant as agricultural use as the overall theme of the MSS report".

Ms Jackson continued, "Basically, the rsident in a Farming Zone must accept the consideration and impact of amenity based not on their residential situation, but on the fact that it is in a farming zone." Ms Jackson repeated her previous statemwent that, "(Rural residents) cannot expect the same level of amenity as those in the residential zone."

Ms Lardner reminded Ms Jackson of the Neist property situation and asked Ms Jackson if she had any expertise in horses. Ms Jackson replied that she did not, and added, "(there is) no conflict in a planning sence of Neist's having breeding horses".

Ms Lardner asked Ms Jackson if she had made any enguiries into the capability of the land (to sustain a WEF), to which Ms Jackson said, "No." Ms Lardner asked if there has been a detailed analyis undertaken (of the land), to which Ms Jackson said she had relied on the "material prepared by the applicant" and that she (Ms Jackson) had not done a detailed analysis. 

Ms Lardner continued with a reference to fire (hazard) analysis, and did Ms Jackson "give study to land use, fault line, catchment manageement" to which Ms Jackson said that the application (for the WEF) was satisfactory for council and VCAT consideration.  Ms Lardner made the statement that Ms Jackson is in no position to judge the quality of the application in terms of what should have been done, specifically in regard to catchment management and land use (and) .... cannot make a judgement as to whaat can or can't do before or after construction."

Ms Lardner made the statement that "the Devon North (proposed WEF) contribution to greenhouse gas emission contribution would bee smaller than other windfarms", to which Ms Jackson agreed, and added, "It is just as impoertant to develop the smaller windfarms".


Cross examination by Tim Peggie.

In reference to the comparision about expectation of level of amenity between rural and residntiaal living residents, Mr Peggie asked Ms Jackson what elements of (diminished) level of amenity that she recognised as existing in the rural community. Ms Jackson replied that noise, pesticides, trucks were all existent in the rural area. Mr Peggie continued by asking Ms Jackson as to what levels of amenity she would consider are greater in a rural zone, to which Ms Jackson somewhat hestiatingly replied, visual amenity. Pressed for a further consideration, Ms Jackson said noise and offered the comparison of residents in a residential area having (close) neighbours and living on a busy road.  Ms Jackson was clearly on the back foot here (my observation) and added the qualification that there were "different levels of noise", and there was a "broader sence of noise in a residential area".  Mr Peggie added the brief comment, "A windfarm makes noise".

It was also stated that, "(Rural) residents enjoy a high level of visual amenity than (those living in) the residential area".  I am not sure who initiated that statement but it was agreed to by Ms Jackson.

Asked by Mr Peggie of the opinion of Ms Jackson as to the compatibility (of a WEF) with adjoining land use, Ms Jackson said there was a need to protect and improve the landscape if a WEF is installed. On further questioning, Ms Jackson said that "There is a negative impact on the landscape (if a WEF is installed)."
Mr Peggie asked Ms Jackson if a WEF is specifically an agricultural use (of the land), to which Ms Jackson replied, "No, it is a wind energy use".

Mr Peggie followed up with, "Not a specific rural use?", to which Ms Jackson replied, "(There is) no difference in amenity in agricultural use and other non-agricultural uses". Ms Jackson followed this with,  "(A) WEF is emminently suitable for a rural zone. It is within the ambit of a rural activity. I would not give it the same weight as a freezing storage area, a cemetery or a circus."

Mr Peggie made the point that Ms Jackson has overlooked the requireements as listed on page 25 of the Vic guidelines (Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development of Wind Energy  Facilities in Victoria, 2003), with respect to visual amenity. Ms Jackson stated that, "(Rural resident neighbours to a WEF)..... can expect some consideration of amenity but have judged them to be acceptable". Ms Jackson then makes a comment to the effect that WEF should be located in an appropriate location. 

Mr Peggie replies, "Do you recognise therefore the amenity of visual and noise", to which Ms Jackson relies somewhat bluntly (my interpretation) , "Acceptable!"

Mr Peggie continues, "Despite visual, quiet, do you still think the amenity is acceptable". 

Ms Jackson replied, "Yes".

[Mr Peggie had solicited from Ms Jackson the admittance that even though she believes that rural residents do not deserve the same amenity as residential areas, she changed her tune somewhat under cross-examination and stated that rural residents have the right to visual and noise amenity consideration. This is a complete turnabout of Ms Jackson's philosophy, and indeed it is my opinion that Ms Jackson's judgement of rural and residential amenity is nothing more than a personal, private comment without professional weight, without practical consideration, and is in fact contradictory to her later comments. Mr Peggie has qualified that even in Ms Jackson's opinion, as an expert witness, the rural living resident has indeed the expectation of visual and noise amenity, and, as a result, has the right to such amenity by law. The hearing could have ended on this significant point, but there were a few more points to cover.]

Mr Peggie raised the matter of amelioration of visual impact by planting (of trees), sopecifically on two properties. Mr Peggie asked Ms jackson of her opinion as to who should "provide the planting", the neighbour or the proponent. There was comment by Madam Chair the tribunal could not enforce any such demands (my words). Ms Jackson said that the proponent should pay.

[It is important to end this report with a quote from then Planning Minister Rob Hulls in July 2005,"The Bracks Government is committed to supporting renewable energy in the right location, to achieve a more sustainable future for Victoria. However, wind farms need to be properly located to deliver sustainable outcomes for our natural environment, lanscapes and rural communities."

Madam Chair announced that there would be a continuation of the tribunal on 6 September 2007, in Melbourne. Mr Schutt had not ben heard as yet, and Mr Chiappi and Ms Lardner's summing up was yet to be heard. 

And so ended the three scheduled days, with another day to come before a decision is made.


6 September 2007.

The fourth and final day of the hearing commenced at 10.00am at the VCAT offices, 55 King Street, Melbourne.
Seven members of CRDN travelled down from Yarram for the hearing, and were joined by a further four from Melbourne. The group was in a jovial and confident mood prior to the hearing, with polite banter with Mr Chiappi. In the gallery was Mr John Traa from the Wellington Shire, and private consultant Bill Barber from Traralgon. (Mr Barber was the consultant conducting the 'open day' on behalf of Synergy Wind in December 2005). The CRDN group included: Eric and Margaret Greenaway, Elizabeth and Tad Heibert, Anna Jung, Pauline Kimber, Jenny Harrington, Tom Reakes, Peter Stone, Geoff and Shaaron Dohnt. 


Ms Lardner commenced proceedings with a written submission, Part 2A, refering to the Neist property, where Ms Lardner summarises: It is submitted that the uncontradicted evidence of Mrs Neist establishes that the proposed WEF will, if approved, adverselt affect the capacity of the Neists to continue to use their land for agriculture. This is, as the Tribunal is no doubt aware, contrary to a number of the primary purposes of the Farming Zone. 


Mr Chiappi called Mr Stephen Schutt, from Hansen Partnerships, to give evidence based on a written statement. Mr Schutt is a Landscape Architect. His evidence concerns the visual aspect of the proposed WEF, where he prepares photographic montages of what the viewshed will be like when the turbines are erected. He also makes an assessment of the degree of visual impact from selected residences, and comments on mitigation possibilities to reduce vissual impact. 

Mr Chiappi refered to several images prepared by Dennis Williamson (expert witness for the CRDN, called previously) where the scale was incorrect. 

[These I understand were in reference to cross-sections used in Mr Williamson's powerpoint demonstration to show how high the 
turbines would be in relation to particular house sites.  Mr. Williamson later commented to me, "It is possible that the image may have compressed the horizontal dimension in relation to the vertical dimension somewhat in order for it to fit on the screen (I will have to check this).  However, such vertical exaggeration is common for cross-sections shown in reports and in terms of comparing vertical dimensions of trees for screening and the height of the turbines, they are both the same scale, while the horizontal distances are clearly marked on the cross-section, as are the absolute vertical dimensions.  None of this dilutes the points that I made with those 
illustrations that within 1 km or so, the proposed turbines will tower over your house, the Neists houses and any others within that range, while no trees will be able to screen them from view unless they are planted very close to the houses of those people being impacted."]

Mr. Schutt indicated three errors in his written statement which he corrected - page 22, paragraph 55, second line (typo - I cant see it); page 35, para 91 should read three turbines, not two; Appendix B, page 2, refers to camera lens of 28mm , should be 35.2mm. There was also a comment on 'intervisibility' (Page 14) which Mr Chiappi wished to clarify. Mr Chiappi refered to a statement made by Mr. Williamson that a '50mm lens is closest to the human eye' and should have been used for all montage preparations. Mr Schutt stated that this was true for standard film cameras, but he had used digital equipment, where the lens focal length has a factor of 1.6. He had used a focal length of 31.25mm which when multiplies by 1.6 gives 50mm.

Mr Schutt said that the selection of viewsheds from the respective properties visited was determined in conference with the resident, and the 'most representative site' was chosen (for the montage presented in his submission to the panel).

[Mr.Schutt mentioned this 'most representative site' a number of times in his submission. He gives the impression that the site was chosen by, or agreed to, by the resident as indeed the most representative site in terms of maximum visual impact. A number of residents strongly disagree that this was done, and suggest that the viewshed represented by the montage presented was not the most representative. I can comment authororatively only on my own property where the major detriment to visual amenity is from inside the house  from the family room, which is used constantly, rather than the occassionally used rear deck. Fort Mr Schitt to have submitted a montage and comment on the viewshed from the family room may have compromised his loyalty to his client, Synergy Wind, by then having to categorise the visual impact as Extreme rather than Substantial. This 'oversite' by Mr Schutt is one which I wanted Ms Lardner and Mr Peggie (and later Mr Reakes) to emphasise as it would surely discredit Mr Schutt's evaluations - more of this later.]

Mr Chiappi questioned Mr Schutt on the matter of visual impact of houses to be built, to which Mr Schutt responded that a new house should be designed with a view to reduce the potential of visual impact. Specific mention was made of the Dohnt property where a permit to construct a new house is will Wellington Shire and is subject to a decision by this VCAT tribunal as to its location. 

[In other words, design and locate a new house so that the turbines can't be seen if you don't like the look of them. Of course, what Mr Schutt has failed to mention is that in doing so, the predominant view from the property may be eliminated. Also it fails to consider that one day when wind energy is no longer regarded as an economic solution to renewable energy, the turbines may be removed, yet the overall landscape vista will remain.]

Comment was also made with reference to the Heibert property, which has a recently constructed residence. Mr Sdchutt noted that trees have been planted as a 'windbreak' on the preimeter of the windfarm property which would eventually screen the turbines from the house thus 'alleviating eventually the deterioration of visual amenity'.

[It is speculated that the planting of these trees by the Hellerens, so close to the Heibert house, is not a consideration of a wwindbreak, but an intimidating attempt to further reduce the visual amenity that the Heibert's would prefer. Their home was sited to take maximum advantage of the view to the south, south-east, east and north-east, with huge windows and view from living areas, and large verandahs. Even without the introduction of windturbines, the 'windbreak' row of trees will eventually eliminate the distant landscape view toward the south and south-east, the very reason for the Heibert's to purchase their land and build their home.]

Mr Schutt stated that on another property where the potential for a Substantial reduction in visual amenity was imminent (the Stone property on Ing;es Road), the selection of the most representative point was from the rear deck. 

[This was not the most representative position - see previous comment.]

 Mr Schutt stated that whereas there are a number of properties that had a Substantial opportunity for the loss of visual amenity, much could be mitigated by the planting of trees.  This was so of the Stone property and the planting of trees on the boundary line would lessen the visual impact (to the view of the turbines to the north-west).  Mr Schutt made it clear that the Stone residence also had views to the north, north-east and east. 

[At this point I was having difficulty curbing my dismay at the unreasonable comment being made by Mr Schutt. Whereas he recognises the Substantial deterioration of visual amenity on a number of properties, he  trivialises the issue by suggesting that all will be well by simply planting trees to block off the view. He does not make reference to the time factor (it is mentioned later), giving no consideration for the number of years that trees need to grow to provide full cover. Nor at any point (untill cross examined later) has he mentioned the height that the trees need to grow to be effective in the screening process. He does not offer any definitive sizes which can easily be calculated by vertical triangulation and later, under cross examination, offer a suggestion on one property by way of judging the required height from a photograph. With respect to my own property, the trees would need to grow to at least 10.2 metres to do the job. I see in my notes thast I wrote at this point of time - 'frustrating at not being able to ask questions'.]

Mr Chiappi noted the situation whereby Mr Schutt had not presemted montages of known neighbouring poroperties, for example the Greenaways, Savale, Moffat, Forder and several others, and asked Mr Schutt his opinion as to the loss of visual amenity from these properties. Mr Schutt 'racked his brain' to remember where they were, assisted by the maps, and in some instances by Dennis Wiliamson's photographs. Invariably the comment was that the loss of visual amenity would be moderate.

[It was suggested to some time previous that this is a standard ploy used by barristers to 'water down' the consequences of an action by introducing a number of other considerations (in this case residences) that give a favourable aspect to the line of questioning that the barrister wishes to take.  This however is not to suggest that that was the objective of Mr Chiappi.]

Mr Chiappi raised the matter of the colour of the turbines. Colours such as green (for the land) and blue for the sky were mentioned, but Mr Schutt prefers white as it is of 'a recessive nature'. Camouflage colouring (this termination was not used) was seen to be too difficult to exactly the match the landscape from a number of  viewshed locations. 

I made note here that there is much reference made by Mr Chiappi and Mr Schutt to the findings of the ball Hills and Waubro Wind Farm panels, using these as precedents.

Mr Chiappi raised the question of 'vertical dominance'. Mr Schutt explained that whereas it is the horizontal vista, or arc  of viewshed, that is predominantly discussed and of concern, a vertical dominance can occur where the object in question 'towers over' the viewpoint location (my words). This would occur where the turbine is particularly closse to a residence. Mr Schutt offers the opinion that the proposed Dohnt property may have vertical dominance (being so close to a turbine). 

11.40am. Morning break.

[At this point I noted a few additional comments, posed as phantom questions to Mr Schutt, perhaps expressing more my frustration at not being able to ask them, and nobody else doing so. 
a: Under what conditions would you apply an Extreme category of visual amenity. (None of the properties presented by Mr Schitt were classed as Extreme).
b: Why is it that you do not present comment and montage from a viewshed seen from inside a home? 
c: Why did you not present comment and montage from my faamily room when you were aware that this is the most signifant location in terms of our loss of visual amenity? (Schutt recognised this when visiting, and sat on our lounge suite and admired the view).
d: Why do you not factor in the concept of time into your graded evaluation of the loss of visual amenity? Surely a constant view from say a living room is more significant tahn from an occassionally used decking?
e: With respect to mitigation you mention the relevance on most properties where mitigation is required, thaat the planting of trees will relieve the loss of visual amenity. Have you an understanding of how tall these trees would need to be on each individual prroperty and how long they would take to grow? (It seems that trees will do the job even if they take ten years to mature). 
Some of these issues were raised, or would be raised, but with as great an emphasis as I would have liked.]

11.50am. Resume.

Tim Peggie commenced cross-examination.

Comment by Mr Peggie on grid reference coordinate discrepencies between those presented by Mr Schutt and those provided by Synergy Wind.  Mr Schutt added that the actual location of constructed turbine can vary 'up to the moment of installation'. This he refered to as 'micrositing'. Mr Schutt said that the effect of changing the location would be minimal (with respect to visual amenity), even though micrositing could raise the base height of the turbine.

[In further discussion on 'micrositing' it appears that the name gives some credibility or justification perhaps for moving the turbine location from the position shown on the permit plans. It is an acceptabl;e practice as 'last minute conditions' may be such that determine such a move. If the applicant is not permitted to move the turbine it would require the applicant to make a further application to council (or the state) to do so. There appears to be no quantitive values on just hopw far a turbine can be moved.]

The name 'Stoney Creek Valley' for the land that forms the general location of the proposed windfarm was used for the first time. This is not a designated name for the valley but is seems quite appropriate. 

Presumably with an aim of indicating the landscape importance of the land, Mr Peggie asked if the landform was prominent to which Mr Schutt said it was, particularly to the west (of the valley). Mr Peggie noted that clause 52.3 of the Guidelines refers to a windfarm having 'minimal impact' on the landscape, and asked Mr Schutt, "Would you consider the proposed wind energy facility to be in excess of minimal impact", to which Mr Schutt replied, 'yes'.

There was some discussion on the planting of trees as being acceptable to mitigate visual amenity. On the question as to who pays for these planting, Mr Schutt sited the Waubro Windfarm panel as being the financial responsibility of the proponent. Mr Peggie continued in questioning Mr Schutt as to whteher it was reasonable  for such plantings to be on the residents property line. Mr Schutt said that (in some circumstances) it may not be effective if on the residents property. (The resident not being the windfarm landowner of course).

Mr Peggie questioned Mr Schutt on a particular view from the Heibert property, asking why turbine 9 was not shown in any montage presented to which Mr Schutt said that he could not show all the views 'within our brief'. Mr Schutt agreed that turbine 9 would be seen from the Heibert property and could have been seen in a montage 'if we (had) oriented the view to include turbine 9'.

Mr Peggie asked Mr Schutt if (in his opinion) screen planting would be in character with the landscape, to which Mr Schutt said, 'yes'.

[Mr Schutt applies an Extreme category only if the visual amenity is substantial and cannot be mitigated. Mr Schutt uses screen planting as his overal panacea  to mitigate the loss of visual amenity.]

Mr Peggie asked Mr Schutt why there was no photo montage presented from the converted dairy onn the Neist property, to which Mr Schutt replied that it was not within his brief, and that the residence was not occupied.  Mr Peggie asked Mr Schutt if he thought that the tribunal may have benefited from seeing a montage from the Neist's renovated dairy to which Mr Schutt replies that he could not answer for the tribunal.

[The dairy in question is no longer used for the purpose and had been converted into a cottage for visitors. It is regularly used by local and overseas visitors and is in a significant position on the Neist property.]

Mr Peggie asked Mr Schutt if he had taken into consideration the residences under the turbines (refering to the Reakes and Lynch properties), and how these were overwhelmed 'in relation to their settings', and from their road entrance. Mr Schutt said that the turbines were screened from the road.

Ms Lardner cross examined.

Ms Lardner asked Mr Schutt of he knew of any situation where an Extreme clasification would apply, to which he replied he know of only one, and that relevant to the 'available views' from a residence associated with the Waubro windfarm. Ms Lardner asked what he meant by 'available views' to which Mr Schutt replied that it would have been from inside the house. He made the comment that the loss of visual amenity diminshes away from the property. 

Ms Lardner asked Mr Schutt if he factors in the concept of time when considering his evaluation of the (degree of) loss of visual amenity. Mr Schutt said that he 'did not take into account this detail'. Mr Schutt recognised that there were 'habitable rooms and habitable spaces', and that these could receive 'relevant weight' as a primary area. 

[Here we have the essence of why Mr Schutt has not presented views from inside some of the relevent residences. For example, as previously mentioned, the predominant viewshed from my residence is from inside the  family room, kitchen, and dining room. Yet Mr Schutt presented to the tribunal only a montage from the north-facing decking which is occassionally used. Had he presented the view from inside the family room, as I asked him to do (and he took photos from there), he may well have needed to upgrade his category of loss of visual amenity to Extreme. His thinking may well have been that the loss of visual amenity from the family room could be mitigated by the planting of trees on my property border, however he chose not to raise this issue as the trees would need to be over ten metres high and would conceivably take ten years to reach such maturity to screen the three turbines which will be dominant from the family room. There is no suggestion that Mr Schutt is incompetent, and thus he would have seen for himself and drawn the same conclusion that the predominant viewshed from my property is that from the family room. So why was this not presented to the tribunal ? It begs the thought that perhaps he was aware of this Extreme condition and chose deliberately not to present it as it would not be favourable to the objective of his client, Synergy Wind. I am disappointed that this particular issue was not stressed by Ms Lardner nor Mr Peggie as it would have seriously discredited Mr Schutt's evidence, and would have registered in reality that there was indeed an Extreme condition relevant to a neighbouring residence at Devon North.]

By now it was quite apparent that Mr Schutt may not have always presented the montage and comment on visual amenity from the most representative viewshed on each prroperty visited, and, in addition, had not visited all relevent residences and significant viewshed points. With this no doubt in mind, Ms lardner asked (was) your brief only (to take) a limited numbe rof photo montages?', to which Mr Schutt replied, 'not number, by time'.

Ms Lardner asked Mr Schutt as to how he chose the viewshed location (at each property visited", to which Mr Schutt said that 'in every case the best representative view from the residence' was chosen. 

Ms Lardner asked how this was done. Mr Schutt that he 'made the best selective, fairest representation for the tribunal. Ms lardner asked, 'would more montages be more useful (for the tribunal), to which Mr Schutt said 'yes'.

Ms Lardner to Mr Schutt again with regard to the Dohnt property, '... is the montage view representative of the location (of the house to be built) where (the) Dohnt'w want it?". Mr Schutt replied , 'No, it is a different location', and explained that it was in a position 400m from the nearest turbine as would be required by council if a building permit were to be issued. It was also noted that the montage for the Vyner property was  not from the viewshed of where the Vyners wanted the house to be built.

[I understand that where Sharon Dohnt and Geoff Bain want to built is just 12o metres from where a proposed turbine would be.]

Ms Lardner again raised the concern that several properties were not presented in Mr Schutt's evidence, and noted et al the properties of Moffat where three turbines would be visible, Stewart seven turbines, Forder two, Telling seven and Burgoyne one. Mr Schutt was aware of these properties. Ms Lardener asked Mr Schutt, 'did you go back and inspect these properties'. Mr Schutt replied, that no, he had not inspected the properties as it was 'not within my brief'.

[If Mr Schutt provided insufficient montages to be representative of the region, it must be appreciated that his company, Hansen Partnerships, would have been given a 'brief' based no doubt on the cost of the consultation - how much Synergy Wind was prepared to pay - hence Mr Schutt's comment that the number of images presented to the tribunal was limited by time. Policy Guidelines make it clear that the loss of visual amenity should be kept to a minimum and AusWEA guidelines make it quite clear that'developers are required to prepare photomontages of how the wind farm will appear from these important view points'.  It appears that Synergy Wind have once again taken a 'cavalier approach' with no genuine concern for the neighbours and district, and have directed Mr Schutt as to which properties to visit. Synergy Wind's brief to Hansen Partnerships is inadequate. Perhaps they should have direct Mr Schutt to prepare a full study of visual amenity for all affected neighbours.I have no idea what instructions Mr Schutt received from Mr Spitzner at Synergy Wind, but clearly the project was inadequate.] 

Ms Lardner asked Mr Schutt is, when considering his evaluation as to loss of vissual amenity from each property, whether he had factored in (the visual aspect) of access track. Mr Schutt replied, 'no'. 

Ms Lardner refered to page 24 of the Policy Guildelines, and asked Mr Schutt if he had complied with the guidelines, to which Mr Schutt replied in the affirmative. 

Ms Lardner replied, 'No you havn't'.

Mr Schutt said that the number of properties he visited was determined by his brief (from Synergy Wind). 

Ms Lardner said that the (Planning and Policy) guidelines are not limited to just the location of the opponents, nor to the amount of money the proponent wants to spend. 'Therefore your evidence is limited. From your evidence to the tribunal it does not give the impression of the impact.'

Mr Scutt replied, 'No (this is not so), we have demonstrated the visual impact of a number of locations. There has to be some discretion (discussion?) as to where we shoot the montages.'

[The Policy and Planning Guidelines for the development of Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria, published in 2003, on page 24, refers to Visual Amenity, and states, 'The degree to which a wind energy facility has a visual impact on the magnitude of the change to the landscape caused by the development taking into account...',  (and lists) visibility of the development, locations and distances from where the development can be seen, sensitivity of the landscape. The reports indicates, '(the) siting and designing to minimise impacts on views from areas used for recreation based on landscape values and from dwelling.' And, 'to reduce visual impactss from key vantage points'. What Ms Lardner was getting at was to again indicate that Mr Scutt had not performed an adequate study of the whole region which would have taken in further 'vantage points' over above those he presented to the tribunal.]

Lunch was taken at 1.00pm.

Hearing resumed at 2.15pm.

Ms Lardner resumed her questioning of Mr Schutt. 'You state (Mr Schutt) that there are eight properties within one kilometer.' (Not sure if Mr Schutt conformed this). There are thirteen properties within one kilometre.' After quoting the Policy Guidelines with regard to siting a wind farm with a view to minimising visual impact, Ms Lardner stated (to Mr Schutt), 'You have not assessed the view from a number of dwellings (therefore) you are not in a position to rule out the possibility of resiting a number of turbines to minimise visual impact.'

Ms Lardner continued, "Is the landscape an attractive aspect?', to which Mr Schutt replied, 'Yes.'.

 Ms Lardner continued, with reference to redient neighbours, 'Do you think it unreasonable to take advantage of the feature, to wish to incorprate a view to allow them to enjoy the landscaape'. 

Mr Schutt's reply was inaudible to the gallery.

Ms Lardner spoke on the suggestion br Mr Schutt to plant trees to 'minimise loss of vissual amenity' (ie to block of the site of the turbines), by planting trees, specifically on the Neist and Stone properties.  Ms Lardner  expressed her opinion that the planting of trees would thus also close the 'window to the enjoyable landscape', to which Mr Schutt argued that, 'the windown would be closed but the visual detraction is not significantly reduced'. 

[The meaning of Mr Schutt's comment is not clear. The point to be made here is that in planting trees to block off the view of turbines, the enjoyable natural view of the landscape which the resident wishes to retain is destroyed. Therefore it is obvious that in planting of trees, the loss of visual amenity is not, as Mr Schutt claims, eliminated, but in fact is in fact Extreme, in that the original landscape viewshed is totally eliminated.  The 'logic' of planting trees to block of the view of the turbines is not only ludicrous, but also demonstrates the contempt that this view holds for the rights, pleasures and concerns of the individual residents, where only the windfarm development is of concern.] 

Ms Lardner raised the concern that trees take time to grow, and thus the amelioration of any impact on visual amenity would take time, to which Mr Schutt agreed that 'trees take time to grow'. 

Ms Lardner, "(So), planting is not aan immediate soplution.'

Mr Schutt replied, "No, not an immediate solution'. 

Ms Lardner concluded her cross-examination with comment that CASA had indicated that aviaation lights would be required, and that 'it would be difficult to appreciate that the effect would not be significant.

Tom Reakes asked several questions of Mr Schutt with respect to what constitutes an Extreme category of visual impact, height of trees, and navigation (aviation) lights. To the latter point, Mr Schutt made the extraordinary statement that visual amenity at night would not be lost 'as it is dark', but that flashing lights  would be 'defined sufficiently as a deterioration of view'. 

3.05 pm. End of Mr Schutt's evidence.

Mr Chiappi commenced his summing up. 

A written report is available, so no need to cover all points. The following however are of specific interest. (The numbers refer to the points in the written report).

2. Although many Australian wind farms have large number of turbines, small windfarms are equally viable and have the benefit of being easier to finance, involve fewer landowners and have lower impacts.

[This is an extremely vague and unsubstantiated statement. Larger windfarms may well be sited where there are few landowners, and to suggest that they have lower impacts is quite erroneous. It is as if Mr Chiappi would add up all the complains of all the landowners and give them a quantitative value.]

7. Refers to the noise. 'If a permit is granted, the actual noise generated would be assessed..... the turbines, in reduced noise mode, will meet the NZS.

9. The applicant's expectation, as an operator of many wind farms, is that the standard will readily be met by the MM 92 in full operation mode.

['... as an operator of many windfarms. There is no indication on the Synergy Wind's website here in Australia,  nor the German website, that they operate any other windfarms at all. If they wwere windfarm developers of note, they would surely list their achievements to attract investors.]

22. Wind measurements at the site ... (show) ... an average wind speed of better than 7m per second. 

[An 'average' windspeed is totally irrelevant. Too low and too high a windspeed eliminates any generation of electricity. What is required is a speed of 4 to 25 metres, and this should be expressed as a percentage of the  time that this occurs over the testing period. I understand that 3 to 8 metres per second is the optimum speed.]

23 (d) There are few houses adjoining the site.

[Few?? Hardly a definitive statement. What constitutes 'few' / The report is implying that because there are 'few' houses, there is little objection and the permit should be allowed.]

23 (j) There are no microwave transmission lines of sight installations that will be affected by the proposed turbines.

{This is incorrect. My property may be affected, being in line of sight with Mt Tassie, as was indicated at the  VCAT hearing). 

23 (n) The site is not proximate to an airfield.

[CASA has required aviation lights to be installed, die to the proximity of the Parkside Aerodrome.]

25 (g) A windfarm is eminently suited to a rural zoning. Residents of a Farming Zone could not expect the same level of amenity as residents of a residentil zone.

[See body of this report for comment on this ludicrous statement.]

Points 46-49. These dismiss the effect of blinking aviation lights as having 'no discrenable effect on the amenity of residents'.

59. ... the proposed wind energy facility, operated in reduced noise mode, is exp[ecte to diosplace almost 51,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas each year.

[There is no indication how this will be achieved. ]

68. One of the turbines will have a daylight sensor. The actual amount of shadow flicker generated will be monitored. The turbines will be turned off for any necessary period required to satisfy the limit. None is anticipated. 

[There is no indication as to how this will be achieved. Frankly, I just dont believe it.]

75. Without a (renewable energy) ceryificate, wind farms are not viable; with a certificate they are.

76. Due to the present uncertainty as to the ability to obtain a certificate in the immediate future, the permit applicant seeks a period of four years for the commencement of any development under the planning permit and six years for completion. 

[The wording is confusing. On advise from Mr Chiappi, he means that the construction period is up to two years. But as worded, it could mean that the windfarm could commence within a year, and take five years to build; or it could mean that it could take four years before commencement of construction, and a further six years to build.]

Mr Potts (VCAT tribunal) asked Mr Chiappi  ifhe had any instructions regarding 'micrositing'. Mr Chiappi replied that (Synergy Wind) would like to have some minor leeway in this regard. that there may be some impact on visual impact and m,ay move the tower toward a property boundary, but there was no anticipation that this would be required.

Mr Potts continued, that there could be an 'expectation that it could happen', to which Mr Chiappi replied that, 'a small degree of leeway would prevent a revit to you', ie to return to VCAT for a decision. 

Mr Peggie Supplementary Submission  on behalf of Wellington Shire Council.
(Written report available).

This submission concerns evidence provided by the Leonards Hill Community Windfarm which was released on the first day of the Devon North Windfarm hearing (1 August). because of decisions made in the Leonards Hill report, the tribunal allowed parties to make further submissions concerning the content and precedent provided by the leonard Hills decision.

Mr Peggie's submission notes a similarity between Leonards Hill and Devon North regions, although Devon North is proposed for seven turbines, Leonards Hill, two. The hub height is alsogreater for Devon North (at 80 metres against 68 metres). The Leonards Hill decision states, 'there is no prescribed test in relation visual impacts on private dwellings'. However the decision also points out that the Policy Guidelines do 'call for the consideration of measures as appropriate to minimise impacts on view from dwellings'. Mr Peggie further noted clause 52.32 of the Wellington Planning Scheme that states that the purpose of the provision os, 'To facilitate the establishment and expansion pf Wind Energy facilities, in appropriate locations, with minimal impact on the amenity of the area.' (Emphasis as per Mr Peggie's report.) Mr Peggie noted the Government policy objectives in relation to renewable energy, 'However, a proposal for a Wind Energy Facility must equally meet the purpose of clause 53.32 and have minimal impact on the amenity of the area.'

Ms Lardner tabled her Submission, Part 3. This was allowed with respect to the Leonards Hill Report which was released on the first day of the hearing. Ms Lardner, in her submission, had made further, substantial, reference to noise, visual impact and shadow flicker, and refered to expert witness evidence on these matters. However, Ms Lardners submission was not allowed by Madam Chair. I could not comprehend in total why the submission was not allowed, but it appears that the submission was outside the boundary of the criteria as to why the extra submission was allowed, ie the reference to the Leonards Hill report, and Ms Lardner was not permitted to enter any new argument, which the submission appears to contain. Mr Chiappi said that if Ms Lardner's submission was accepted by the tribunal, it would prejudice his client if he were not able to to make a reply. In making a reply, his client would incur additional costs, and he said that he would make application for such costs to be borne by the opponents. Madam Chair gave Ms Lardner the opportunity to discuss the situation with her clients and adjourned the meeting for ten minutes.

It appears that there was a misunderstanding by Ms Lardner as to what new argument could be introduced.  Ms Lardner's clients were concerned about the costs that may arise from Mr Chiappi's reply, and whereas there would have been several important points presented in the submission, it was felt that the time and cost would not be warranted. Ms Lardner therefore withdrew her submission.

Although it has no bearing on the decision making process of the tribunal, it is of interest to note Ms Lardner's conclusion. 'This submission draws to the the Tribunal's attention further evidence of, it is submitted, an inadequately researched proposal that does not identify or address with sufficient detail the particular characteristics of the proposed site nor the adverse and unreasonable impacts which would be expereinced by the surrounding land owners. It is submitted that the proposal stands before this Tribunal as an example of a proposed development that is 'going through the motions'. As a consequence, it is submitted thaat the applicant has failed to establish that the proposed site at Devon North is an inappropriate site for this WEF. Instead, it is repectively submitted that the submissions made to the Tribunal have establisshed that the application for review ought be refused and that no permit ought issue.'

Mr Chiappi commented on a a number of conditions that had been raised should a permit be issued. See below. Note that Mr Chiappi requests the tribunal to alter some of these conditions, as per his written statement. 

Madam Chair announced that the two-person panel will visit selected residences at Devon North on 12 September. 

The Tribunal ended at 5.20 pm.


[As laid down by Wellington Shire Planning Deprtment in granting permission for a permit - which was not approved by elected council. These conditions were raised and discussed at the fourth and final day of the VCAT hearing.]

1. Before the use and or development starts, amended plans to the satisfaction of the Responsible Authority must be submitted to and approved by the Responsible Authority.  When approved, the plans will be endorsed and will then form part of the permit.  The plans must be drawn to scale with dimensions and two copies must be provided.  The plans must be generally in accordance with the plans submitted with the application but modified to show the turbines rearranged on the site so that no turbine is closer than 500 metres to any dwelling, other than the dwelling belonging to the owner of the site.

2. The layout of the site and the size, design and location of the buildings and works permitted must always accord with the endorsed plan and must not be altered or modified without the further written consent of the Responsible Authority.

3. The wind farm and turbines must not exceed the following parameters:
Nine turbines in total; [Has been reduced to seven by operator].
Turbines to be mounted on round steel towers no greater than 80 metres in height to the hub of the turbine and with a base diameter of no greater than 4.3 metres;
Rotor blades of no more than 46 metres in length;
Total installed capacity of no greater than 20 Megawatts.

4. Unless with the consent of the Responsible Authority, all areas affected by construction activities required for the windfarm, including access roads and lay down areas, must be revegetated and rehabilitated to their previous condition at the completion of construction operations to the satisfaction of the Responsible Authority. 

5.  Works must cease immediately upon the discovery of any Aboriginal cultural material and Aboriginal Affairs Victoria must be notified immediately of any such discovery at GPO Box 2392V, Melbourne, 3001 or ring 1300 551 380.

6. If any suspected human remains are found, work must cease immediately and the Victoria Police and State Coroner's Office must be notified immediately.  The State Coroner's Office can be contacted at any time on 9684 4444. If there is reasonable grounds to suspect that the remains are Aboriginal, the discovery should also be reported to Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.  AAV will ensure that the local Aboriginal community is informed about the circumstances of the discovery.

7. Before any building or works commence in association with the windfarm, the following information must be submitted to and approved by the Responsible Authority: 
A Traffic Management Plan, addressing the following issues: 
(a)  Construction and transport vehicle routes; 
(b)  The suitability of access roads for traffic needs; 
(c)  Existing and potential impacts upon traffic volumes on local roads; 
(d)  Vehicle access points to turbine sites from Bolgers Road; 
(e)  The provision of appropriate traffic management signs; 
(f)  The need to minimise the impact of traffic associated with the ongoing operation of the wind farm upon traffic volumes and flows on Bolgers Road and Old Whitelaws Track; 
(g)  The need for intersection upgrades to accommodate any additional traffic requirements; 
(h)  Re-powering and / or de-commissioning traffic requirements. 

8.  Before the commissioning of any stage of the wind farm, the following information must be submitted to and approved by the Responsible Authority in consultation with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment: 
 A bird and bat management plan which includes:
A pre-construction, (15 days over 6 months that includes the months of October through to February) monitoring program undertaken to monitor the presence and behaviour of birds and bats on or near the wind energy facility.  This must address the frequency and height of bird and bat movements across the site, seasonal changes in movements and the species involved.
Additional monitoring during migratory periods to study the impact of the facility on the Swift's parrot.
Survey work on the Wedge-tailed Eagle and trans Bass Strait migrants to assess impacts on these species.
A post-commissioning bird mortality monitoring program along with scavenger trials to determine what impact the wind farm is having on bird and bat species.
A mitigation plan for dealing with potential threats to avian species that may be identified through these studies.
The results of the surveys and monitoring work must be reported to the DSE, the responsible authority and made available to the local community.

9. Before any works commence on the site, an Environment Management Plan (EMP) which covers the construction, operation, re-powering and decommissioning of the wind farm must be prepared to the satisfaction of the responsible authority.  The EMP must address the following issues:
A construction and work site management plan which includes:
Procedures for access, noise and pollution management;
Identification of all potential contaminants stored on site;
The identification of all construction and operational processes which could potentially lead to water contamination;
The identification of appropriate storage, construction and operational methods to control any contamination risks;
The identification of any waste re-use, recycling and disposal procedures;
Criteria for the siting of any temporary structures required during construction (including construction compound, workers huts, concrete batching facilities, storage and laydown areas, etc.); procedure for their removal and reinstatement of the land once they are no longer needed;
Detailed track construction plans for all tracks and access points, to the satisfaction of the responsible authority.  Access must only be taken from Bolgers Road;
A sediment and erosion management plan which includes:
Procedures to ensure that silt from batters, cut-off drains, table drains and road works is retained on the works site during and after construction.  All land disturbances must be confined to the minimum practical and to the vicinity of the identified works area. 
Soil to be removed must be stockpiled and separate horizons must be stockpiled separately and not mixed.  Stockpiles must be located away from drainage lines and covered/stablilised to limit wind erosion;
Details for the storage of fuels and chemicals in securely bunded areas well away from waterways and native vegetation;
Procedures to contain any contaminated or turbid run-off during and after construction;
Procedures to suppress dust arising from construction-related activities.  Appropriate measures may include water sprays on roads and stockpiles, stabilizing surfaces, temporary screening, modifying construction activities during heightened wind periods and revegetation of exposed areas as soon as possible;
Procedures to ensure that steep batters are treated in accordance with Environment Protection Authority recommendations detailed in the Construction Techniques for Pollution Control No. 275, 1991;
Procedures for waste water and discharge management;
Procedures for reinstatement of unnecessary tracks, hardstand areas and other areas following completion of construction.
The development and use must be carried out in accordance with the approved Environmental Management Plan to the satisfaction of the responsible authority.

10.  The operation of the wind farm must comply with the New Zealand Standard: "Acoustics - The Assessment and Measurement of Sound from Wind Turbine Generators" (NZS 6808:1998) (the "New Zealand Standard"). 

11.  The permit holder must conduct a pre and post construction qualitative survey of TV & radio reception of representative residences, and also of electro magnetic signals from all radio base stations and microwave repeating stations, within a 10 kilometre radius of the wind farm site. If the qualitative survey establishes any detrimental increase in interference to reception and/or signals, the applicant shall implement mitigation measures that return affected reception and / or signals to pre-construction quality to the satisfaction of the Responsible Authority. 

12.  The permit holder must implement mitigation measures to the satisfaction of the responsible authority to ensure that no dwelling experiences an unacceptable degree of shadow flicker. For the 12 months after the last turbine is commissioned shadow flicker experienced at any dwelling in the surrounding area must not exceed 30 hours per year as a result of the operation of the windfarm. 

13. Simultaneously flashing red aviation obstacle lighting must be placed on the most northern, most southern and most eastern turbine to the satisfaction of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.  The lights must be shielded or designed so that the light is only directed upwards and does not shine at or below the horizontal.

14. Following completion of the wind farm construction, CASA must be informed so that they can organise a test flight to determine the adequacy of the lighting provisions to ensure that the safety of air navigation is not compromised.  This may result in more or fewer lights being required.

15.  Once the final position of the wind turbines has been determined and prior to construction, the developer must supply RAAF AIS with the height and position of the turbines.  When construction is complete, ‘as constructed' details must also be passed on to the RAAF AIS.  Contact should be made with the Aeronautical Data Officer, RAAF AIS, on (03) 9282 6400.

16. All tower access points and electrical equipment must be locked and made inaccessible to the general public. Public safety warning signs must be located on all towers, and all spare parts and other equipment and materials associated with the windfarm must be located in screened, locked storage areas that are inaccessible and not visible to the public, to the satisfaction of the Responsible Authority. 

17.  This permit does not include permission for any buildings or works associated with the re-powering of the windfarm. Such works will require further planning approval. 

18.  At project closure and / or decommissioning, the applicant must conduct the following operations to the satisfaction of the Responsible Authority; 
(a)  The removal of all non - operational or downed equipment. 
(b)  The removal and clean up of any residual spills. 
(c)  The clean up and restoration of all storage, construction and other areas associated with use, development and decommissioning of the windfarm. 
(d)  The restoration of all tower pads, access roads and any other area affected by project closure or decommissioning. 

19.  This permit will expire if the development is not started within two years and completed within four years of the date of this permit. The Responsible Authority may extend this period if a request is made in writing before the permit expires or within three months afterwards.