NSW: wind supporters, speak up!

The opening for submissions on the NSW wind guidelines has brought out many supporters of wind to highlight some of the practical reasons why they think wind energy will benefit them and their community.

Predictably, there are also numerous submissions opposing wind energy.

You can see all the submissions online, and download the draft guidelines, at the NSW Planning Department website.

You can see the NSW Nature Conservation Council’s comments on the guidelines here. Our submission is also available for download here.

We encourage all NSW wind energy supporters to make your own submission, even if it’s only a paragraph! Your submissions/comments can be mailed (Policy, Planning Systems and Reform, Department of Planning and Infrastructure, GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001) or emailed to innovation@planning.nsw.gov.au

Below are a few stand-out comments from some of the submissions we’ve read (which isn’t all of them yet!). Most alarmingly (or is that amusingly), we have been alerted to the dangers of fan death…

Farmers who want wind energy:

  • “We can put 7 silos within a neighbors’ view and we don’t need their approval. People build houses on their farms and don’t seek a neighbors’ approval as to where it goes. You are removing our right to earn additional income for our family business.”
  • “I am a 43 year old grazier within the uungula windfarm at Mudgee, which our land might have wind turbines, depnding on the finalised guide lines. i have traveled to spain and waubra in victoria to view, listen, and learn about windfarms. the livestock graze and camp under the turbines in 30km hour winds with no hesitation, and the  locals i talked to had no problems with the wind farm. therefore i support and encourage wind farms in our country for green energy. but i dont support the heavy guide lines for wind farms which are proposed by the nsw goverment. the 35db restriction is a insult when the coal mines in this area have less restriction then wind farms will. does the state goverment want to force the industry out of the state . i hope they start thinking about the people who wish to support wind farms on there land and give the grazier a bit of a go for once.”
  • “These guidelines are not fair on the part of the farmer who would host turbines with other farmers or occupants within a 2km radius having to big of a say of what happens, it is taking away a farmers rights. I am a farmer is being targeted for turbines and i don”t want other people telling me what i can and can”t do with my farm. I see it as a great positive for the farmers and communities. Do not make it to hard on renewable energy we don”t want more holes in the ground.”
  • “The draft guidelines are far too excessive for these projects. Once again we have government and bureaucrats bowing to the minorities in our communities. This is an opportunity for farmers to drought proof their farms. Extra income will also help environmentally eg running less stock in lean pasture; stronger plans for eradication of noxious weeds and also a reduction in mental health issues. The two kilometre set back should be reduced and the effect on visual value should be scrapped altogether. Who has ever paid me for looking at my farm and structures have been built  interrupting my view and no compensation was called for.”

Many submissions compare the onerous requirements on wind developments with those for coal and gas and other developments:

  • “For wind turbines there must be landowner permission. CSG mines, infrastructure and pipelines should only be allowed with landowner permission.”
  • “Visual amenity or noise have never been allowed to stop open cut coal mines or coal-fired power stations, as these were deemed ‘essential infrastructure’. However, wind farms in a climate change world are far more essential than coal mines.”
  • “The visual guidelines include such things as ‘potential for visual clutter’ and ‘possible blade glint’, ridiculously strict guidelines that are not applied to coal-fired power stations or open cut coal mines or coal seam gas installations.”
  • “The Petroleum (onshore) Act 1991 (NSW) only requires a 200 metre buffer between a well head of a CSG mine and development. What is so special about wind turbines?”

On the economic benefits:

  • “Australia was once a leader in renewable energy development, but it has now become a laggard. Lets change that.”
  • “Wind farms create long term skilled employment opportunities in local communities. The proposal would have a chilling effect on this source of local employment.”
  • “The most devastating effect will be on small-scale projects that potentially provide the greatest benefit for local communities. Local communities are a vital driving force behind every government.”
  • “The local economic benefits of wind farms are not mentioned in the guidelines, despite the massive potential for increases in employment.”
  • “We are always trying to improve our facilities at the hall, new kitchen, public toilets, cricket ground, play equipment, tennis court, and we are hoping that the proposed Rugby Wind Farm will assist with their Community Funding proposals. The   National party promotes decentralization and wind energy offers local people the chance to succeed in this.”

On the noise and “health” issues:

  • “Under the disguise of the precautionary principle, the guidelines lend government credibility to the myth that wind farms are detrimental to human health.”
  • “The noise standards are unrealistic and unnecessary. They will stop wind farms that will have almost no audible impact inside any dwellings.”
  • “Reference to the precautionary principle in regards to supposed health issues undermines public confidence and I wonder would this approach then be adopted in regard to other public health scares such as emissions from telco tower developments or in the health area on inoculations for children?”
  • “We are extremely disappointed with the misinformation the Landscape Guardians are spreading amongst our local community, creating unnecessary fear. The Landscape Guardians have injected funds from outside this area to create a false view that their opinion is the majority view.”

On consultation and planning process (including some disgruntled wind energy opponents!)

  • “The Guidelines claim that there has been community consultation in their preparation. I live in Goulburn, right in the centre of wind farm development, and apart from the noisy one sided rants by the Landscape Guardians, I have not heard of any such consultation in our area.
  • “The Department needs to acknowledge that we landholders live in an industrialised landscape and as such, wind turbines do not change this.”
  • “Imagine trying to build a road like the Pacific Highway from Sydney to Brisbane if you had to prepare a photomontage from every household within 2km of it first!”
  • “Local councils resource the Joint Regional Planning Panels… Council does not receive any development application fees from State significant development and as such would not have the resources to undertake the role required of it under JRPP procedures.”
  • “Congratulations, Sir Humphrey Appleby would be proud. Rather than producing a strong, certain, and straightforward set of Guidelines that both protects the safety and amenity of Tablelands communities (surely the Government’s prime duty of care) but also lets the wind energy industry know precisely where it can and cannot build its controversial and socially divisive industrial projects, instead you have proposed a “dog’s breakfast” of uncertainty on both sides”
  • “Although it is clear that a boundary has to be set, and a 2km limit may be reasonable in most cases, a number of site-specific factors will affect the appropriateness of any limin, in particular, landscape factors may significantly alter the impact of proposed turbines on neighbouring residences and a measure of distance alone may fail to capture these impacts.”

…and don’t forget the danger of fan death!

  • “Given that a complete absence of scientific evidence regarding the negative health impacts of wind turbines is sufficient reason to create a 2 kilometre setback for wind turbine generators from human residences, I would like to take this opportunity to submit a proposition, and a profoundly important one, at that. “Fan Death” is a phenomenon that is reported predominantly in South Korea, involving electric fans being left on overnight, chopping up the oxygen molecules in the room, and causing asphyxiation to those in the bedroom.“Some close-minded and under-zealous critics have stated that there is no possible physiological mechanism through which an electric fan could suffocate humans, and that there is no published scientific evidence of a causal link between fans and suffocation. They also point out that this does not occur throughout the rest of the world, where electric fans are used regularly. As you well know, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and therefore the jury is still out on the health impacts from electric fans. When it comes to people’s health, I hope you really do take the precautionary approach, every time..

    “Thus, I propose a two kilometre setback for the installation and operation of electric fans. I hope you can understand the importance of basing governmental policy on small quantities of anecdotal reports. The greatest moments of progress in society always stem from the instantaneous disregard of scientific inquiry. I sincerely anticipate your inclusion of electric fans into the draft NSW planning guidelines.”

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