Gisborne meeting backs community wind farms

Posted on June 24, 2011 by

27


The following media release was sent out reporting on our very positive community meeting in Gisborne on June 23. We will be publishing more information and video from the event here shortly.

Gisborne meeting backs community wind farms for Macedon Ranges

75 people, mostly Macedon Ranges residents, packed a hall at New Gisborne on Thursday night to discuss the prospects for wind farm developments in the region. The meeting heard speakers on wind farm development, changes to the wind farm planning laws, and the contrast between the strong negative health impacts of coal power compared with the very minor problems with wind power.

The attendees were overwhelmingly in favour of wind power development, with local group Woodend Integrated Sustainable Energy (WISE) receiving a lot of interest for their proposed 3-turbine community wind farm just south of Woodend. The proposed site is on crown land leased for a pine plantation, and more than 1.3km from the nearest residence.

WISE spokesperson Barry Mann outlined this proposal to the meeting. The key obstacle to overcome is for the state government to amend planning laws to ensure access to a site, currently restricted to forestry operations.

Friends of the Earth renewable energy campaigner Ben Courtice says that this should be easy. “The previous state government had already indicated this would not be a problem. We hope that Planning Minister Matthew Guy and Environment Minister Ryan Smith are are able to see the sense in supporting this community project.

“Friends of the Earth admires the efforts of groups like WISE who put so much effort into the transition to renewable energy. The WISE project would generate energy equivalent to that used by households in Woodend, Macedon, Mt Macedon and Riddells Creek.

“Given the urgent need to act on climate change, we think it’s a shame that the government isn’t actively supporting or even building wind farms. The least they can do is make it possible for this project to proceed.

“The state government’s proposed new restrictions, like a Macedon Ranges no-go zone for wind farms, would rob communities like this of their ability to take some control over their clean energy future and capture the financial benefits. That would be a terrible outcome.”

One opponent of wind farms spoke up at the meeting, saying that he was a supporter of other forms of renewable energy, but not wind turbines.

30 of the 75 people present completed a short survey on their attitudes to wind turbines. Not one was against wind power, although many reasonably wished to know more about health and noise concerns in relation to wind turbines, and the impacts on birds.

Survey respondents came from across the ranges from Kyneton to Gisborne South. They noted strong support for community wind projects, citing reasons including climate action, green jobs and energy security.

The meeting was organised by Friends of the Earth, who plan to continue their community advocacy in the region.