In November and December, Yes 2 Renewables took to the road to hold listening posts in regional towns in central Victoria to find out what the community really thinks about wind farms. Following on from a successful event at the Lancefield and District Farmers Market, we headed to Avenel. Here’s Y2R volunteer Chrissi Charles’ account of the listening post:
Yes to Renewables kicked off December by heading to the picturesque Avenel Farmers Market to gauge the community’s thoughts on the future of wind energy in Victoria.
The small town of Avenel lies just over 100 kilometres north of Melbourne. Although there are no plans for wind farms in the town, it’s located close to Trawool where a wind farm is proposed for the Cherry Tree Range. In any case, wind farms could be a key support the region’s future, so Y2R wanted to go and scope things out.
The first thing we noticed about the area was the strong winds, which kept us holding onto our hats. Makeshift paperweights were required to hold our stall materials together. While it took some getting used to the windy weather proved how important a role the region could play in increasing Victoria’s use of renewable energy as an alternative to polluting fossil fuels such as coal.
The stall visitors we talked to were very friendly and interested to hear what ‘side’ of the wind energy debate we were on. Some folk were apprehensive at first, but once they realised Y2R were in favour of wind farms they voiced their support (anti-wind farm bullying silences supporters).
The vast majority of locals we spoke on the day to were supportive of wind farms in Victoria and voiced their concern about the future of the wind energy sector in Australia. Our friendly stall neighbour reminded us how much we will lose with the Baillieu government’s wind farm crackdown by telling us a personal account of his son, who is a construction workers who is now struggling to find work in the sector.
A handful of locals voiced their appreciation for having a group visit the region, in the face of an aggressive anti-wind farm campaign, to show support for renewable energy in their community. These individuals felt as though recent vocal support seemed to focus on the supposed negative aspects of wind energy.
It was great to hear many locals friendly and open-minded attitude towards renewable energy. Several people proudly mentioned they were ‘off the grid’ and making money back using solar energy.
A number of people asked about the possibility of setting up private wind farms in conjunction with solar panels to produce carbon-free electricity in sunny and windy weather. One stall owner we spoke with told us people were using recycled engines from older Fisher & Paykel ‘smart drive’ washing machines to build their own, D.I.Y-style, wind turbines.
Overall, the locals we speak with had positive views. Despite the vocal efforts of anti-wind farm campaigners the Avenel community still believed renewable energy has a promising future in Victoria.
* The Seymour Telegraph filed the following report on the Yes 2 Renewables listening post: