A meteorological mast at the site of the proposed Delburn wind farm has collapsed, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage.
OSMI Australia confirmed that the mast was vandalised and, as a result, collapsed in an uncontrolled manner.
OSMI director Peter Marriott said he was “incredibly disappointed” about the damage caused.
“We were notified through an internal system that the mast had failed and upon inspection it was clear that it had fallen to the ground, it was very evident that someone had damaged it,” he said.
“We haven’t had any acts of vandalism at Delburn, it had happened on other wind farm sites in the early 2000s when the industry was fairly new, but not recently.”
Mr Marriott said he had not seen damage to this extent at a wind farm site before.
“We are measuring the wind conditions through other means, it’s a headache but it’s really not going to slow us down in production,” he said.
“We appeal to people (to) stay away as it is unsafe private property and if you have concerns come to us, via Zoom and people can have their say through the planning process. There are legitimate ways of raising objections.”
OSMI is continuing with its plans to progress the project through the planning process, and if or when OSMI is to install a replacement mast, it will inform the community in advance.
Community group Strzelecki Sustainable Futures’ Catheryn Thompson said vandalism is “not on, putting people’s lives at risk is not part of our community ethic”.
In a statement SSF said “Unfortunately, this incident demonstrates that anti-wind misinformation and scaremongering can have potentially dangerous consequences”.
“We support the Delburn wind farm as a new source of renewable energy and the value of the Met Tower research data that assesses the wind resource,” it said.
Strzelecki Community Alliance – a group formed to oppose the Delburn wind farm – member Tash Blake said she did not think anyone in the group would vandalise the mast, putting their safety at risk.
“There was CCTV footage, so why are they pointing the finger at the anti windfarm people when they could just show the footage? I think it needs to be released,” she said.
“The don’t really know what has caused it and a full investigation is to follow, but I can not see any of the locals doing anything so extreme. We have already had some trouble with simple things like having our anti-wind farm banners taken down.
“There were high winds all week and ironically, it could have been the wind that knocked over the mast.
“In the SCA we are all for sustainable energy, just in the right place and the right way.”