Seymour will get a chance to hear how the Ararat community has lived happily with wind farms for the last ten years.
Gwenda Allgood, a councillor of the Ararat Rural City Council, will present her district’s experience of the Challicum Hills wind farm, at the Energy Futures Forum in Seymour on November 16. Pacific Hydro’s Challicum Hills wind farm, consisting of 35 x 1.5 megawatt turbines, was Australia’s largest wind farm when first built in 2003. Cr Allgood held the position of Mayor at the time when the Challicum Hills wind farm was first proposed.
“There was strong community support for the wind farm from the outset,” Cr Allgood said, “with no opposition to the proposal, and the residents have embraced it as ‘their’ wind farm.”
The project has been regarded as a great example of what can be achieved when the private sector, local businesses and community members work together to produce a positive outcome.
The wind farm has created significant employment, investment and tourism opportunities in the Ararat region and has recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. It has also returned more than $380,000 into 151 local community projects that encourage sustainability.
Revegetation programs at Challicum are also helping to protect local biodiversity and improve the habitat of indigenous wildlife.
Cr Allgood, who has been an elected representative of her Shire for over 30 years, including 5 terms as Mayor, was present at the Challicum Hills public consultation meetings with land holders and the meetings with the Local Business Association.
She was also fully involved during the Ararat Rural City Council application and planning process for the wind farm, and is keen to share her experiences with the people of Mitchell Shire and beyond. The Ararat region is leading the way for other regions now investing in clean energy.
So successful has the Challicum Hills project been that wind farm developer Renewable Energy Systems (RES Group) is currently building a 75 tower installation near Ararat, with some of the new turbines sharing an existing boundary.
Speakers at the forum will address some of the key issues surrounding our ongoing transition from a dependence on fossil fuels to harnessing the renewable energy from the sun, wind, water and earth.
BEAM aims to increase awareness about all forms of renewable energy, encourage public discussion, and empower residents to make meaningful changes to their own energy use.
The Energy Futures Forum will be held at the VRI Hall in Seymour, 2-5pm on Saturday 16 November, with gold coin entry.
Also, see this article from the Ararat Advertiser – Ten years of wind farm operation