Consultation starts on Scott River wind farm project amid concerns about turbines

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Scott River farmer Scott Baxter says wind farms for the region are not sustainable.
Camera IconScott River farmer Scott Baxter says wind farms for the region are not sustainable. Credit: Supplied

A series of public workshops will be held next week as Synergy advances its plans for a wind farm in the Scott River area despite public concerns.

The project is still in its earliest stages but is set to face strong opposition from some farmers in the region who believe the power company has failed to consider the unique agricultural landscape of the food bowl.

The Times last month reported a split view on the proposal among inland residents, which has since only heightened.

While Synergy was quick to note the project was just one of a slew of concepts designed to address its commitment to reducing carbon emissions once coal-fired stations are shut down by 2030, Scott River dairy farmer Ross Woodhouse said he was keen for his land to be considered.

Mr Woodhouse told the Times he wanted to be involved in the project that would support his own sustainability ambitions.

“It really would have a minimal impact on us in terms of our day-to-day operations and very compatible,” he said.

However, Scott River beef farmer Scott Baxter said the proposals weren’t viable for the region due to the potential effects on neighbouring landowners.

Mr Baxter said the distance between turbines needed greater consideration, with the overall project better suited to areas such as the Wheatbelt.

“I want to get my message across to the general public,” he said.

“Nothing adds up with the project and the blocks are too small.”

He said he was frustrated at getting few answers from Synergy, which included his concerns the provider was relying on South Australian modelling despite proposing bigger turbines with inadequate compensation offers for land owners.

Mr Baxter said Scott River and its surrounds were growing as a food-producing region and that future supply could be imperilled by big turbines across the landscape.

Synergy was unable to respond to questions before deadline.

The concept of a hybrid wind farm was first promoted by the Augusta-Margaret River Clean Community Energy group.

AMRCCE chair Jessica Worrall confirmed Synergy’s involvement in its ambitious plan.

“AMRCCE started investigating the feasibility of a potential wind farm in the South West region six years ago and is excited to see this work continue,” she said.

Consultation teams will host public forums in Augusta and East Augusta, Margaret River and Alexandra Bridge from Monday.

The forums will be held from March 11 to 13, with a kiosk at Margaret River Farmer’s Market on Saturday, March 16.

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