Energy park a step closer

Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group vice president Bruce Mildenhall, Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, Barry Man, Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas , Al Reid, mayor Janet Pearce, David Gormley-O’Brien, Cr Jennifer Anderson and Ralf Thesing. (Supplied)

By Oliver Lees

A localised energy source in the Macedon Ranges is another step closer to becoming a reality.

Last week, Macedon Ranges councillors agreed to contact Agriculture and Regional Development Minister and Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas to ask her to consider an amendment to the Victorian Plantations Corporation Act 1992 that would allow the Macedon Ranges Community Energy Park to progress.

The project has been halted due to the fact the park’s desired location is currently designated as forestry land and cannot be used for other purposes.

Cr Mark Ridgeway said his motion to write to Ms Thomas was designed to “uncork that blockage” and allow the development to commence.

“Some years ago … legislation was in place which basically prevented such an energy park from being created in the Macedon Ranges,” Cr Ridgeway said.

“Legislation was changed to enable the energy park to be located on land which happened to be forestry land, but that forestry land in itself was also covered by the plantation sector.”

“[This motion] enables what is, I think, quite a commendable application to at least come into existence,”

Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group (MRSG) vice president Bruce Mildenhall said there is widespread support for the development of a localised energy source.

“Hancocks PTY is the licensee of the land and they’re keen on the energy park and we’ve got a development party who are keen to move on it,” Mr Mildenhall said.

“The technical feedback we’ve received is that for Woodend, the grid is well-designed for a self contained system.

“Wind as an energy resource has been tested for years and seen to be extremely viable really the only thing that is stopping it is trying to secure access to the land.”

According to the MRSG website, the park will produce enough clean energy to power every household in the shire, utilising eight wind turbines and 24,000 solar panels.

Cr Ridgeway said lessening dependence on external energy sources would benefit the shire.

“In the light of recent events with all the storm damage that we’ve had it’s probably quite timely as well,” he said.

“Such an energy park would actually help stabilize our energy future, particularly for local communities in this area.”