February 17th, 2022Final say on solar farm
THE decision on whether eight hectares of industrial solar panels will be placed at Leonards Hill will be made by DELWP some time after February 14.
Leonards Hill property owner Adele Chivers is hoping it’s knocked back. Not because she is against renewable energy, she is very much for, but because the panels will be 30 metres from the property she and her late husband bought in 2007.
Not long after the purchase they found two wind turbines erected on the paddock behind their house and learned to live with them. But this next step is too much, she says.
Adele said the solar arrays would come within 30 metres of her boundary fence, whilst the fencing for the development would come within 20 metres.
Meanwhile, the western boundary is 325 metres away and the southern and eastern boundaries are 424 and 904 metres away, respectively.
But, Adele says, she feels as the only objector she is being seen as just a complaining NIMBY. “I just feel like I am being treated like a whingy old lady but I think my concerns are very valid, anyone in my position would feel the same way.
“But I have listed all my objections and just hope they listen to some of my issues and make some concessions. They told me I won’t hear anything in the house, but I didn’t buy in the country to stay in the house all day and night.
“It has been really difficult because I am a private person who doesn’t stick their neck out about anything but I had to give it a shot. My husband’s ashes are up there – it was meant to be our forever home.
“I don’t want the green fields around my property replaced with shiny, noisy, industrial-scale solar panels. Just thinking about it makes me ill. I’m in favour of renewable energy but I’m having my sanctuary threatened.”
In January last year, Hepburn Wind manager Taryn Lane told The Local the organisation, which operates the two wind turbines at Leonards Hill, was “proposing an Australian first for how to integrate solar appropriately into valuable agricultural areas”. “The solar array will be placed on the least arable area on the farm using a technology which reduces the footprint of the solar system by over 50 per cent.”
The project has been supported by Hepburn Shire and in 2019 received a $500,000 grant as part of the Victorian Government’s Renewable Communities Program. Words: Donna Kelly