Last week’s anti-windfarm meeting at Penshurst made a minor stir in the news after renewable energy advocate Matt Wright, from Beyond Zero Emissions, was able to grab the floor of the meeting to briefly respond to the stacked anti-windfarm panel.
Other climate activists from Melbourne were shouted down when they tried to make statements to the meeting.
Sarah Laurie was apparently unable to make it, but Peter Mitchell of the Landscape Guardians and Waubra Foundation spoke.
Sadly, local Coalition MPs David O’Brien and Simon Ramsay seem to think the anti-wind majority at last Thursday’s rally in Penshurst is representative of community views, according to the Hamilton Spectator’s article (see below). (Also covered in the Warrnambool Standard).
A contact who lives in Penshurst only found out about the meeting due to my information provided; there was no obvious local advertising, apparently, in this small town of only a few hundred residents.
[Correction, 11/6/2012: Another contact said they saw the poster at right in the local store just prior to the meeting.]
When Matt Wright asked the meeting how many were “local” (which could legitimately include Hamilton, but not much further afield), only about 40 raised their hands. Later when the question was put again, apparently the contingent from the Mortlake area also put their hands up.
I think they were being a bit keen – they had their own, similar meeting just recently, at which Sarah Laurie actually spoke (and her talk to that is transcribed here).
Clearly, supporters of the anti-windfarm campaign travelled some distance to bolster the numbers at this meeting, and there seems to have been little effort to get a representative cross-section of the community. Some attendees were even recognised as campaigners against the Baynton wind farm near Seymour.
Campaigners against windfarms are entitled to rally their supporters. They shouldn’t claim they represent the views of the broader community. Studies by both CSIRO and developer Pacific Hydro have both indicated a high level of community support for wind farms, including in the areas where they are already built.
It would be good to have a real debate rather than these rallies orchestrated by one side. We have another opportunity next week.
Senators John Madigan (Democratic Labor Party) and Nick Xenophon (independent) will host two public meetings on the impacts of wind farms, advertised on the website of the Australian Environment Foundation (an anti-windfarm, pro-nukes, pro-logging group, not to be confused with actual environmental campaigners).
June 12th Portland. 7pm Portland Arts Centre
June 13th: Bacchus Marsh. 7pm St Bernards Church hall, 61 Lerderderg St
We encourage supporters of wind energy to attend and shed some light on the real benefits to communities from the wind industry.