Australia’s anti-wind energy campaigners have a history of using dirty tricks to influence public opinion on wind farms. Orchestrated rallies, the misrepresentation of data, astroturfing, and the use of ‘junk science’ have all been observed. Now, evidence of coordinated email campaigning to increase complaints lodged against a South Australian wind farm has emerged.
Julian Swallow reports for the Adelaide Advertiser:
Green groups cry foul over email to generate “fake” complaints against Waterloo wind farm in South Australia
GREEN energy groups are crying foul over an email campaign they claim is intended to generate fake complaints against the Waterloo wind farm in the state’s mid-north.
The Clean Energy Council said the email, sent last month by local resident Mary Morris to about 100 residents in the area, encouraged them to invent health or noise complaints against the 37 turbine wind farm, 30km south east of Clare.
“What the email shows is that anti-wind farm campaigners will use a range of tactics to pressure authorities and make it seem as though there are more of them than there really are,” CEC policy director Russell Marsh said.
“(However) It’s important that wind farm developers consult closely with the local community around any new wind farm to ensure that any genuine concerns and issues are heard and addressed.”
In the email, Ms Morris, who lives 17km from the wind farm, said Goyder Council had said it had received no written noise or health complaints regarding the Waterloo wind farm.
It asked residents to send in a written complaint to both the Goyder and Clare and Gilbert Valley councils, outlining the impact of the wind farm on their health and hearing.
“All it has to be is a simple letter stating that the noise and vibration is causing a serious disturbance to sleep and rest, and/or that people are becoming sick – mention elderly and frail people AND children as well, especially if this applies to you,” the email said.
“If you have already sent in a letter, send again with a cover note that you wish your submission to be considered as a formal complaint about the effects of the Waterloo wind farm.”
Both the Goyder and Clare and Gilbert Valley councils said they had received only a handful of letters related to the email, and they would not be taking any further action.
Ms Morris denied the email was intended to “coach” residents to send fictitious complaints.
She said it was instead intended to remind residents to ensure their concerns were properly taken into account.
“My intention was purely to alert people that if they thought they had communicated to the Council, this may not be the case,” she said.
“Phone calls and conversations with councillors at community meetings and workshops were not considered formal complaints.”
Ms Morris said local community members had given up trying to communicate directly with Waterloo wind farm owner TRUenergy, as their complaints were not taken seriously.
However, TRUenergy said it worked hard to address community concerns, and had witnessed no increase in complaints as a result of the email campaign.