Rugby wind farm: Has the noisy minority won out at the region’s expense?

Friends of the Earth media release, May 3, 2012.

The first project to be affected by the new NSW wind energy guidelines has been substantially reduced compared with its original vision.

Windlab Systems and REpower Australia have announced a proposal which is 40% smaller than originally planned, from 90 to 52 turbines. The companies cite ‘community consultation, environmental studies and the state governments draft guidelines’ as the reasons for the reduction.

“We commend the companies for listening closely to community concerns and amending their plans” said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker.

“However, we do note that the smaller project means fewer jobs and local opportunity, and less green energy being produced.”

“When we visited the Boorowa – Crookwell region in 2011, we found strong support for the Rugby project. While a noisy group of ‘antis’ were getting most of the headlines, we met many people who quietly supported the further development of wind energy.

“Small business people and farmers spoke of jobs, rental income and opportunities, and retirees from Canberra told us they would ‘be proud’ to support renewable energy. We repeatedly heard the suggestion that the majority support wind, with many putting the ‘hard core’ opposition at between 5 and 10% of the community.

“However, as has been shown by analysis of media reporting, the fear stories used by anti-wind energy campaigners tend to attract the headlines.”

“With new wind policy in NSW, we have to hope that finding the balance between community acceptance and new controls doesn’t kill off the wind sector. Regressive laws developed in Victoria have already cost the community up to $556 million in lost investment and around 480 direct jobs in construction. It would be tragic if NSW followed the same path as Victoria”.

Our report from the trip to Boorowa/ Crookwell can be found here

Our assessment of the costs of the Victorian government’s wind policy can be found here

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