Disclosure needed on anti-wind farm group’s motives

Posted on September 12, 2011 by

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The following letter from Cam Walker (who is one of the moderators of this blog) was sent to the Ballarat Courier on September 9. The Courier published the letter with some editing, taking out the mention of Peter Mitchell’s business interests.

A recent letter to this paper from Peter Mitchell (Stop wind turbines until studies have been done) was signed off as Chairman of the Waubra Foundation. Some disclosure is in order.

Far from maintaining complete independence from anti-wind advocacy groups, as per its charter, the Waubra Foundation effectively acts as a front group for the Landscape Guardians. Despite claiming concern about almost all threats to the landscape, this group only fights against wind farms. It is always notably absent when green wedges are threatened or coal mines, coal seam gas developments or polluting power stations are proposed near communities.

As to its leadership, perhaps Mr Mitchell should disclose that he’s been fighting the Stockyard Hill Wind Farm for years, is an office bearer of the Landscape Guardians, and has oil, gas and uranium interests. The Foundation and Peter’s business interests share the same address in South Melbourne.

Fellow directors of the Waubra Foundation are no more independent. Sarah Laurie, Kathy Russell, Tony Hodgson and Michael Wooldridge all have objected to wind farm projects in their own backyards.

Ms Laurie continues to work her way across the country scaring communities with claims of ill health. The Waubra Foundation sows seeds of division wherever it goes and blames the resulting mess on the wind industry.

Our organisation supported the call for further research into wind turbines that came from the recent Senate Inquiry. But we also look to the fact that there are around 100,000 commercial scale turbines around the world, many of which have been operating for decades, without significant impacts on local communities.

While ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’ is not recognised by any medical authority in the world, many anti-wind activists portray the slightest symptoms of anxiety or insomnia as being indicative of the Syndrome. We argue that this displays little regard for the effect of these claims on the mental health of rural communities around existing or proposed wind farms.

While this approach might be effective in delaying wind developments in their own neighbourhoods, it does so at the expense of rural communities that want to benefit from renewable energy and blocks the necessary transition towards a clean energy future.

Cam Walker
Campaigns co-ordinator
Friends of the Earth
Castlemaine