On June 23 2011 we held a very successful public meeting in New Gisborne entitled Wind power: risks and opportunities for the Macedon Ranges. You can read our press release on the event here.
This page is to share some of the resources discussed by the speakers and during the meeting. We will also have video of the presentations available soon.
The panel, including references they mentioned, were as follows:
Tobias Geiger, managing director at Gisborne-based WestWind Energy spoke about their procedures for community consultation and planning when they do the development work for wind farms. Their most recent work was the Moorabool project.
Dr Merryn Redenbach, from Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), spoke on the health impacts of coal and fossil fuels as compared to the impacts of wind farms and criticised some of the material which purports to show health risks from wind farms. Here is a link to DEA’s submission to the Senate Wind Farms Enquiry (scroll down to submission no. 829 in the list!).
Michael Power, who works on policy and law reform at the Environmental Defenders’ Office. You can download their briefing papers on new requirements for wind farms and on planning control comparisons between wind farms, coal mines, and other from their website.
Simon Holmes à Court, Hepburn Wind Chairman, spoke on the process of developing their community owned wind farm which generated its first electricity for the grid just the day before. Hepburn Wind also work with Embark, who provide a lot of assistance to community renewables projects.
Friends of the Earth have some short fact sheets on health, bird impacts and others which we had available at the meeting and will make available here as PDF files soon. You can also view some information on this site about health impacts, possible threats to birds, and fire risks from turbines.
Question and discussion time was lively and carried on over supper after the formal proceedings were over. We had contacted the Sunbury-Gisborne Landscape Guardians to invite them to have a stall with their own information, but in the end all we had was one comment in discussion from one who attended.
Report from Gisborne wind forum, June 2011
At the forum we had about 72 people (not including media reps). Apart from a reasonably long Q&A session, where people could express their opinion or ask questions, we invited people to fill out a simple poll asking them to provide some details on their approach to wind energy. One person in the Q&A expressed their opposition to wind energy.
We made an invitation to the local Landscape Guardians to hold a stall at the event and circulate any information they may have. They declined this offer.
We are aware that it can be quite confronting to speak in a public forum. So we wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable to express their opinion. So we put a form on all the seats at the forum which invited people to indicate whether they support or oppose wind energy, or whether they were un decided.
In total, we got back 31 responses. All of these said they supported wind energy.
The poll was anonymous (completed forms were left in a box in the next room). However we were interested to know where people came from.
In terms of response, all were from people in the region, from most to least represented areas:
Riddells Creek (11 people)
Castlemaine, Cherokee, Mt Alexander Shire, Daylesford, un known (all 1)
In terms of why people like/ support wind energy, the most frequently mentioned options listed on our form were:
· It provides green energy
· Its good for the local economy
· Good for land owners
· Its job rich
· Income for local Councils
Various people added their own comments. Some of these include:
· Its sustainable power
· I like there being a diversity of energy sources
· Good for income diversity of land owners
· I like the community ownership model
· Community benefits
· Peak oil makes this urgent
· Sustainable communities, sustainable energy
· Its about energy security
· I support decentralised energy production
· Its environmental common sense
it has the potential to revolutionise energy generation ownership – change driven by citizens and not utilities with stakes in fossil fuel generation
There were also some general comments made such as
- good forum, thanks for the Q&A and allowing basic/ less informed questions
- thank you for a very informative evening. Many of my questions have been answered re wind energy
Three respondants circled points in the ‘problems’ section and made the following comments:
· “I don’t know about the health concerns but would like to know” (they also circled the ‘threat to birds or wildlife’ box
· One person said “I am concerned about (impacts on birds/ wildlife) – need serious research” & “We do need evidence based buffer zones”
· “We need more information about health impacts of energy: what about mercury in coal, Gippsland health, sensitivity to noise?” This person also said “Not on Hanging Rock, understandable” (we fully agree!)