As part of our pro-renewables work, we get out into the community, holding information stalls and talking with people about their attitudes towards wind energy in particular. This page shows our activity from 2011.
Following in Victoria’s footsteps, the new NSW guidelines to restrict wind were announced. Our media release is here.
We sent out a response to the highly disappointing Federal White Paper on Energy. We will look to make a submission in the new year.
We began letterboxing Ted Baillieu’s electorate Hawthorn, with the help of local supporters. The materials delivered were our postcard for residents to sign and return to us to send to Ted Baillieu, and a short flyer explaining our campaign. We immediately began receiving the postcards back in the mail. Perhaps the Premier has not checked his policy’s support in his own electorate?
The Ryan Corner and Hawkesdale wind farms were given the go-ahead, after fears that local Moyne Shire council objections would see the Minister reverse their planning approval. This led to a revision of our estimate of the costs of the Victorian government’s anti-wind policy down to “only” $525 million in lost investment.
Ben Courtice spoke for the Yes2Renewables campaign on a panel “Renewable energy: the potential and the backlash” at the Climate Change/Social Change conference in Melbourne. The panel, which included Trent Hawkins from Beyond Zero Emissions, can be viewed via the livestream footage here .
Friends of the Earth co-ordinated protests around the state against the new anti-wind planning laws. 100 supporters rallied at the steps of parliament house, Melbourne and heard from speakers including Steve Dargavel, secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union. At the same time, unionists joined renewable energy supporters in Geelong for a protest at the office of Liberal state MP Andrew Katos, and protests also occurred in Ballarat and Bendigo.
A report is available here.
We attended a meeting of activists in Sydney to discuss the current moves to alter wind farm planning laws in NSW. You can read a report of that meeting here. We are particularly concerned that NSW may replicate Victoria’s wind laws. Pro-renewables groups in NSW are now organising to make sure wind power continues to grow in that state.
September 10, 13
We addressed meetings of the Bendigo Sustainability Group, RMIT students, and the Geelong Trades Hall Council about the new anti-wind laws and our campaign in support of wind energy and renewables. In particular at Geelong, we found that people who had no previous involvement in the issues were particularly interested in the apparent links between the Landscape Guardians and certain fossil fuel/mining interests.
We addressed the Lighter Footprints climate action group about the benefits of wind energy to mitigate climate change, participating in a meeting where the primary speaker looked at some of the potentially harmful effects on plants of higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
July 26-29 2011
We met some interested folks in Goulburn, NSW. In an area where the primary industry for so long, wool, is no longer the economic dynamo it used to be, the growth of the wind industry here holds great potential. They are on the top of the great dividing range, with a great wind resource, and neighbouring areas already host several wind farms like Gunning and Cullerin Range.
We also met with Adam Blakester of New England Wind in Armidale, NSW – an area of great potential for future wind power developments. They have had great success in promoting their community wind farm project, with over a hundred landowners expressing interest in hosting the turbines.
July 19 – 21, 2011
visit to Yass – Boorowa – Crookwell area, NSW
We visited this ‘wind country’ hotspot to hear some of the other side of the story to the wind debate. We met with a range of people who are supportive of wind energy, from land owners to small business operators to people living in local towns.
There is a report on the trip available here.
We attended the Landscape Guardians’ meeting at Barunah Park, on the Cressy-Shelford road west of Geelong, with some other wind energy supporters and climate activists from the southwestern area of Victoria. A report on the meeting is available here.
We held a stall in Woodend to distribute our campaign postcard and help collect petition signatures for the WISE group‘s proposed wind farm near Woodend. Out of about 35 people and families who stopped to chat (or made comment in passing) we got only one outright negative comment. Several people were concerned to know where the turbines would be located, and one said she was worried about “health effects”. However, we got nearly 30 signatures for the WISE petition and overwhelmingly found the locals we spoke to were positive about the project.
June 2011. Gisborne meeting backs community wind farms
75 people, mostly Macedon Ranges residents, packed a hall at New Gisborne 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.
June 2011: wind supporters project launched.
We are publishing comments from people in the community who support wind energy. It’s a myth that wind power is unpopular and we want to show some of the human faces – and personal motivation – behind those who support wind energy.
You can see the profiles here.
May 30 – visit to western Victoria
Ben took a trip down to western district visit wind farms like Codrington and Oakland Hills, and meet with local renewable energy supporters. It was what we’re assured is a fairly unusual day, the turbines were barely turning even down at Cape Bridgewater near Portland.
We wish a happy anniversary to all involved at the Codrington wind farm, Victoria’s oldest, which was built just ten years ago. Well done for ten years of clean, pollution free energy!
We hope to be back down in the area more frequently to talk with locals about their experiences with the wind industry. There’s a lot of projects under construction (like the Oakland Hills wind farm near Glenthompson) or approved but not yet started, so the area really leads Victoria for clean energy.
May 27 – ‘Deckchair Democracy’ at Parliament House
FoE was invited to speak on May 27 at Deckchair Democracy, a month of protest and speakers on the steps of Parliament House organised by members of Melbourne environmental group LIVE.
There is a YouTube video of the speech available here.
May – Bayside Climate Change Action Group
Ben and Cam visited the Bayside Climate Change Action Group in Sandringham to let them know what is happening with the implementation of the Coalition’s wind policy, and what it will mean to this low carbon, job rich industry.
BCAG website available here.
May 2011. Chepstowe wind farm approved
Friends of the Earth has congratulated Planning Minister Matthew Guy on his decision to approve the Chepstowe wind farm development near Ballarat.
The Government has clearly heard the voices of hundreds of Victorians who wrote to the Minister in support of the Chepstowe wind farm.
FoE worked hard to generate many emails to the Planning Minister when he called in this project.
April 4:Ararat and Challicum Hills
When it was built the Challicum Hills wind farm was the biggest in the Southern hemisphere, but its now been eclipsed by Waubra, which is nearly three times its size! Challicum Hills is located outside the town of Ararat in North West Victoria and apparently this wind farm went through planning processes with no objections.
While in Ararat I addressed an interested group of locals, mostly drawn from the local Landcare meeting which finished immediately prior to my talk, on the subject of the government’s new guidelines for wind farms. Many people at the meeting expressed much support for wind energy as a source of clean renewable energy in light of the need to urgently mitigate climate change. Ararat has an active Greenhouse Action Group and many people at the meeting are also taking action on climate change at both a household and community level.
April 3 Waubra wind farm festival
The previous day we held a stall at the Waubra wind farm, which is the largest wind farm in the Southern hemisphere. It was a blowy day and according to our tour guide, on the day of the festival the farm would have been producing enough energy to easily power Ballarat. While in the Waubra area I also spoke to a number of locals, including a farmer from Lexton, about their concerns with wind farms such as ongoing noise monitoring and impact on landscapes.
April 2: Warrandyte Sustainability Expo
For the fourth year in a row, Warrandyte Climate Action Now has organised a sustainability expo at the Warrandyte Community Centre, and we held a stall there. Friends of the Earth is keen to let the new State Environment Minister Ryan Smith know that people in his electorate of Warrandyte think that wind farms are a good thing! While views of wind farms were overwhelmingly positive, health concerns about wind farms were raised by some of the people who came to the table and had seen Friends of the Earth on the 7.30 report the night before.
March 26 Hepburn Folk Festival:
We were at the Hepburn Springs Folk Festival on Saturday, March 26th, at The Old Hepburn Hotel. Although crowds were small, the response was great. We were gathering signatures for the Macedon Ranges Community Wind Farm, which is planned for a pine forest south of Woodend. To support this great community project check out http://wisegroup.org.au/wind.html
March 19 2011: Riddells Creek Food Fair
We held a stall at the Riddells Creek food fair. We had conversations with 43 people about wind energy.
We were heartened by the support we got, from people as diverse as commercial potato growers, people who live in Riddells and commute to town, and a family who are looking to get their on home entirely off the grid. The majority of people signed the petition in support of the Macedon Ranges wind farm proposal.
From Riddells Creek we headed over to Leonards Hill, just south of Daylesford, where Hepburn Wind were celebrating the construction of their turbines. It was a gorgeous early autumn afternoon, and several hundred people showed up to watch the work, chat and catch up with friends, and celebrate the construction of Australia’s first community owned wind farm.
|Riddells Creek||# of people|
|Support wind energy||41|
|Oppose wind energy||-|
|Uncertain/ undecided||2 (concerned about possible health impacts)|
Hepburn Wind Turbine Raising
It’s been six years to get from a good idea to turbines on a hill in Central Victoria. It was a great day, and it was an honour to share the day with many of the people who have worked tirelessly to get this project through to this point.
Check out the turbine going up in the background!
March – Senate Inquiry into the Social and Economic Impacts of Wind Farms
We attended the hearing for this Senate inquiry in Ballarat and presented at the Melbourne hearing, as well as doing a substantial amount of media on the issue. The Inquiry is due to report by mid June 2011.
February – hearing into the Chepstowe wind project
We attended the hearing at Planning Panels Victoria into the Chepstowe project, the first wind farm project to be called in by the new government.
Since the election of the Coalition to power in Victoria, the political landscape for wind farms has changed dramatically.
As the Clean Energy Council (CEC) has noted, if the Coalition’s wind farm policy is enacted, it will put “thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of energy projects … at risk”. This will impact directly – and negatively – on regional Victoria.
Since the election, we have been campaigning to get the message out that this policy is bad policy – to the community and decision makers.
Through media work, community organising and direct lobbying, we are urging the government to over turn this ill informed policy.
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