Committee for Bellarine
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December 20 2011
The Bellarine Peninsula may lose renewable energy options unless laws are changed.
The EcoWhisper light industrial wind turbine.
Potential Bellarine buyers of a new silent wind turbine, touted as the next big thing in green energy generation, will have to wait until changes are made to a new state law.
Geelong engineering company Austeng, which built the prototype, has more at stake, as the company will lose the contract to build 100 turbines a year if the Government doesn’t act.
The law, put in place in August following an election promise to restrict wind farms, covers the Bellarine and Mornington peninsulas, Macedon and McHarg ranges, the Yarra Valley, Bass Coast and Great Ocean Road, and forbids any wind turbine unless permission for its construction is given by all residents who live within two kilometres.
The law as written would effectively result in no turbines being erected, and is widely believed to be an attempt to curb wind farms. EcoWhisper, the owners of the new silent turbine designed for single-use light industrial purposes, has hope the Government will change the wording of the law before it has to pull away from Geelong.
If they did move away it would be bad news, according to Committee for the Bellarine’s Tom O’Connor, who had been working with EcoWhisper to have the silent turbine erected on the peninsula.
He believes the technology would be ideal as it is quiet, environmentally friendly and visually low-impact. He knew of several potential buyers for the turbine, including a winery business.
“Clean energy is consistent with global, national and local thinking,” he said.
Mr O’Connor had lobbied state politicians about the effects of the law’s wordings and had high hopes that the situation would be sorted out, so low-impact wind turbines would be allowed.
EcoWhisper business development manager Michael LeMessurier confirmed there were potential local buyers for the turbine, which is silent because it has no blade tips for wind to rush past. He also confirmed that the company might pull out of Geelong.
“The council and the community and region have been great but the bottom line is we don’t have a market here,” he said.
“(However,) there is some indication that things will be fixed.”
Austeng corporate manager Lyn George said losing the contract would be devastating.
“We will lose the ability to maintain staff and our clean technology expertise.
“The manufacture of EcoWhisper wind turbines is an incredible opportunity both for Australia and Geelong, which will be lost if the legislation cannot be clarified,” she said.
The Bellarine Times contacted the planning ministry for comment but has yet to receive any.