Campaign Diary 2012: Avenel Market Listening Post

WIND FARM THUMBNAILIn 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:

Screen shot 2012-12-18 at 1.22.23 PM

43 thoughts on “Campaign Diary 2012: Avenel Market Listening Post

  1. Why will you not do a survey of homes within 2km of a proposed windfarm? Afterall these are the people that will be living with them everyday. Are you afraid of the answer?

    1. Such a survey (of homes within 2km) would be irrelevant. A wind turbine cannot be within 2km of a turbine unless the home owner agrees….so either there will be no one to survey or 100% support.
      In terms of Cherry Tree, the application report states “there are no ‘non-associated’ landowner
      dwellings located within 2 km of a wind turbine.” So your point is?

  2. Well done Beam and Y2R . A street survey done in South Gippsland towns about 6 years ago during a torrid and politically-motivated anti-wind campaign here still found strong support for wind and other renewables among respondents

  3. Peter raises a good point, why don’t you do a survey of people within 2 kilometres of a proposed wind farm. I think we all know the answer! Selective surveys as well as asking the right questions you will always get the answers you want. I think a nice simple question for those within 2kms of a proposed wind turbine would be ‘Do you agree to having a turbine within 2kms (or closer) of your home’.

    1. Such a survey (of homes within 2km) would be irrelevant. A wind turbine cannot be within 2km of a turbine unless the home owner agrees….so either there will be no one to survey or 100% support.
      In terms of Cherry Tree, the application report states “there are no ‘non-associated’ landowner
      dwellings located within 2 km of a wind turbine.” So your point is?

      1. The point is FOE and most correspondents to this site want the current laws changed and a survey of homes within 2ks of sites formerly proposed as wind farm developments might indicate the level of support for the regulations as they now are.

  4. I have already said somewhere on this site that until Origin cancelled their wind farm plans at Lexton I would have been living within 1.5km of a turbine and that was fine with me. I have been ‘up close and personal’ with big turbines before and they don’t seem to me to pose a threat. I have a small one of my own and it is very noisy – it actually screams in a strong wind.
    But in a strong wind all you hear is wind!
    There is nothing wrong with wind. Just ask Bob Oatley – the owner of Wild Oats XI.
    He loves it!
    Still, it is nice to know that there are all these people out there worrying about my welfare if I were near a wind farm.

    1. So JP you are fine with a turbine being close to your home. If we surveyed your neighbours would they have the same opinion? If they did, then under current Victorian planning regulations a wind farm could be built in your area. I somehow doubt that your opinion would be the majority view!

  5. I am sure if you keep looking you will certainly find someone who is not happy with wind turbines. Just like I don’t like traffic noise. Out here there is no traffic noise.
    In fact, unless I get in the car, there is no traffic.

    As to the ‘majority view’. The CSIRO did a recent survey about the broader community view on the matter and there was a strong majority in support of wind power. Of course these will mostly be city people but around here, I have found only one person against wind farms, and a few who are 50/50. The rest seem to be relaxed about it all. I expect the farmers who get paid for the rental of their land don’t have a problem, or at least they don’t say so.

    My main concern is not a support position on wind farms. They are just a means to an end.

    It is that if something is not done about climate change we are in for a serious rearrangement of the way weather systems work, very likely to the detriment of us all.
    We can see this rearrangement already under way.
    And I suspect that the less well off will bear the biggest burden.
    The planet, as a complex integrated system, will adjust its operations to suit itself.
    The problem is that these new operations may not suit us or other species.
    We don’t need to save the planet, but we do need to stop contaminating its ecosystem.

    1. JP I also live in the country and I also dislike city traffic noise. Until recently I was in a wind farm development zone. I can tell you that the wind farm was was universally opposed by all those that had a turbine within 2km of their home (some were as close as 800m) and by many that were further away. I think the current laws suit an area where wind farms have the support as sounds like they do around you. I think it is an excellent that people support alternative energy in your area and that is where wind farms should be constructed – ie. where there is strong local community support.

      1. Even in the unlikely event that the turbines were “universally opposed”, the fact is that most would live with him quite happily afterwards going by experience here in South Gippsland. All manner of dire predictions were made yet not one of them has come to pass after a decade of operation for the oldest of the two wind farms in the area.

        Around 500 people live within the 2 km footprint of the Toora wind farm yet nobody is falling over ill or suffering any adverse conditions. Meanwhile at Wonthaggi, 7000+ people live within 2 km of that windfarm.

        The opposition is primarily from a few individuals who have convinced themselves they are a little too special to live with a nearby windfarm. They really need to get over themselves.

  6. Blair you’re fixated on health issues do you know something we don’t know? The universal opposition and it was universal from the 100 residents that would have lived within 2km was mainly based on aesthetics, shadow flicker, noise, blade glint and property values. There were concerns about health but they were way down the list. I have said this once before on this site if you have a choice between a block of rural land that is overshadowed by a turbine or one without you would be a fool to choose the block with a turbine. One can also be within 2km of a turbine and have no impact becuase there is hill between you and the turbine so not all will be affected.

    1. Gerard, if you had been dealing with the idiot anti-wind brigade for as long as I have, you’d understand why I challenge the claims made by these loons. Health issues are their latest hobbyhorse/excuse.

      I’m only stating the fact that a windfarm has been operating nearby for 10 years without any problems.

      Shadow flicker is a non-issue. But you would know that if you knew anything about turbines or actually saw them operating.

      1. I think people were right to be concerned about aesthetics and land value as the following illustrates:

        The South Gippsland Shire Council has conceded that the proposed Bald Hills wind farm has diminished property values, contrary to claims by the wind industry, and accordingly reduced the rates on properties surrounding the site of the proposed wind farm. Note the wind farm has not even been built. On one property Capital Improved Value was $662,000 and council have just dropped this to $450,000

      2. Blair, personally I would have the most difficulty with the noise, I know you will say there is no noise the fact is there is, I may be overly sensitive but the whoosh of the blade past the tower really bothers me, others it may not. An artist friend when we visited turbines to see what all the fuss was about was most bothered by the shadow being cast across the land at our friends home, the turbines were erected within the former governments guidelines so only covered the home for the regulated time allowed but the land at the rear of the home was of course covered for longer lengths of the day. So we are all different. I have always said that turbine placement like any industrial facility is planning issue.

  7. You personify turbines Blair ‘most would live with him quite happily’ I guess they are kind of phallic! I doubt whether people would live with them happily but they do have to accept that’s their lot but because there would not be many buyers for their properties with such an imposition.

    1. Gerard, “most would live with him quite happily” was a typo, it should have been “them”. I’ll invoke the blame the voice recognition software excuse for that one.

      As for the claim from the SG Shire, do you have a link and/or a date when that claim was allegedly made? You may not be aware that when windfarms were first proposed for this area, the councillors were almost entirely opposed to the projects despite knowing nothing about wind turbines. In any case, land values are affected by all sorts of things and generally only for the short-term in the case of wind turbines if Toora is any guide. Do you live in the area?

      As time has gone on, the majority of councillors now appear to be ambivalent or in favour of them now they have seen how harmless the windfarms really are. It’s not really surprising that the two remaining councillors do still oppose wind farms are from the Bald Hills region with some politically connected opponents live. I wonder if you are aware that one of the most vocal opponents was in fact for the Bald Hills windfarm in the early stages because he believed a number of turbines would go on his property. His opposition commenced immediately the project plan was released and he realised he would not benefit directly from hosting turbines. Self-interest writ large.

      As for shadow flicker, it’s a nonevent. If horses, sheep and cows can put up with the shadow moving over them, I find it hard to believe that people couldn’t. Particularly when the cello is only over a particular area for around 20 minutes, and that is only if the sun is shining.

      There are many things I don’t like but I accept we must have if we are to enjoy the benefits of modern society. Living near some turbines so we can have energy on tap at the flick of a switch is a pretty small price to pay. I think people like yourself who oppose wind farms for primarily selfish reasons should look at the wider picture and consider all those who will be affected by climate change.

      Whether you believe in AGW or not, councils are now having to account for it and some of the likely side-effects such as sealevel rise, as are insurance companies. Why not lend your concern to those individuals who have bought property along the coast who can no longer build on those holdings and will apparently not receive any compensation?

  8. Blair it is not an alleged claim it is a fact and the information was released to me on the 13th of Jan and the reductions will be backdated to July 1st 2012. As to your claim that land values are affected by all sorts of things – a 32% fall in value is significant and would be considered a major crisis in Melbourne and I must say if it were your property. As for the short-term in the case of wind turbines comment can you guarantee that. As for shadow flicker are you equating your intelligence and sensitive level to that of animal which has no choice but to remain where it’s placed? You don’t mention noise because as you would know from your intimate knowledge of turbines remains an issue. Wind turbine on broadacre properties is still an option and a 2km buffer or one based on 20x the height to blade tip is the way to go in removing turbines from homes unless the turbines are on your property or some settlement is reached with neighbours. Blair you are the selfish one in wanting to inflict turbines on others when you know you will not be in their situation.

    1. Still no link Gerard? I don’t really care what information was released to you if it wasn’t, or isn’t publicly available. Self-serving claims from windfarm opponents are everywhere. You guys have form when it comes to invention.

      In any case any property devaluation is only ever an estimate if it is not realised by a forced sale so go ahead and claim away.

      I have two reasons for doubting any long-term, detrimental effect to land valuations due to wind farms because of what has happened at and around Toora where property values are approximately half as much again as they were when the windfarm was constructed. Again, check with the ABS if you doubt me.

      Secondly, the estimate for this years rates for the South Gippsland Shire Council anticipate an increase of approximately 4.5%. Given that rates are related to property valuations, your 32% fall claim seems to be unjustified, certainly unsupported.

      See:
      http://www.southgippsland.vic.gov.au/Files/Appendix_-_E_3_-_Draft_Budget_-_LTFP_2012-13.pdf
      Note:
      2.11 There are no known significant changes, which may affect the estimated amounts to be raised by rates and charges.

      I hadn’t realised comprehension was a problem for you but just for clarification, I didn’t equate my intelligence with anything else. I only pointed out that horses, sheep and cattle don’t seem to be affected by shadows from turbines, horses in particular are noted for their flighty behaviour – yet they seem quite happy around the turbines.

      I don’t mention noise because it’s a nonissue for objective people. For the precious few and those with political connections or those who oppose renewables and/or the science of climate change, any excuse will do to help justify their opposition. You keep ignoring the tens of millions in Europe who have been living with them for years with no concerns.

      You still don’t get it. I don’t want to inflict anything on anybody where possible, but if it’s a choice of sensibly switching over to renewable energy or risk the dangers of more intense storms, floods and fires which will affect all life on the planet, then I’m sorry but you and your precious buddies will have to take second place. You’re not that important in comparison to the livability of the planet.

      Everybody makes accommodations to fit in with modern day life. It’s not as though some huge chemical plant, iron smelter or open cut coal mine was being constructed next door to your precious mates, just some benign wind turbines.

      It’s time you moved on Gerard.

      1. Blair you need to eat your words, read todays Australian to see if am correct or not. Your rant about rates was just that a rant – typical of a bully!

      2. Gerard, if calling out your fabrications is bullying then I plead guilty.

        As for your reliance on The Australian, you must be desperate. Last year three people, myself included submitted separate complaints to the Press Council highlighting the distortions and blatant lies peddled by The Oz regarding its climate change denial, falsehoods regarding renewable energy and wind farms and its tendency to grossly exaggerate mythical health conditions.

        The Press Council upheld our complaints and the Oz was forced to publish the findings of the Press Council.

        I note that once again you fail to provide any link or article title that allows me to check any of your claims. I suspect it’s because your claims aren’t matched by fact.

      3. But they aren’t fabrications Blair and your ranting is a form of bullying. Those figures are real and if you weren’t worried about finding out the truth you would do some work and find out for yourself and prove me wrong.

      4. Ah yes, the truth, that nebulous thing that you and your fellow conspiracy theorists never acknowledge when it conflicts with your prejudices.

        And you still fail to provide anything to support your claims. Says it all really.

      5. Blair, again with the labels I think you are the conspiracy theorist, jumping at shadows. You continue to play the man not the ball you bully!

      6. All you need to do is provide some peer-reviewed evidence from credible scientific resources. Anecdotes from people who believe they are little more special than everybody else, or the planet, don’t count. Over to you Gerard.

      7. Blair I didn’t know they peer reviewed rate valuations. As far as I know rates are based on perceived value if you have a wind turbine in your view the price of your property is lower than someone without the view.

      8. As far as you know…

        How do you explain away the fact that property values around the Toora wind farm are half as much again as they were when the windfarm was constructed? You see it’s these inconvenient facts that make me doubt your sincerity. Just like climate change denialists, you cherry pick the period of data to suit your whining.

  9. Gerard, I’m talking about the health claims, but you know that. I don’t really care if valuations fall, whether they are real or imagined.

    If property owners whingeing about wind turbines suddenly discover their land value has decreased, they only have themselves to blame for refusing to be honest and for sowing the seeds of doubt.

    Further, if a smart buyer exercises his right to use the propaganda spread around by people such as yourself, to demand a lower price for a property, well, all the better.

    Ultimately any blame lies with those who insist on spreading dubious claims around the countryside. You shouldn’t be surprised when your chooks come home to roost.

    1. Of course you don’t care it is not your property – whose selfish now? They have themselves to blame – I don’t think so! I have never heard so much drivel and vindictiveness as you pour out Blair you really need to take a rest otherwise you are going to end up bitter and twisted,

      1. Poor old Gerard, your denial is telling. The only people whining about land valuations are windfarm opponents so they only have themselves to blame. They have been hoist on their own petard and I for one think poetic justice. It’s doubly ironic that they whinge about depreciated land values when they don’t mind other people, councils and community groups losing money when projects are denied. Fortunately more and more people are seeing through your hypocrisy.

      2. In your twisted mind Blair, it is the victims fault, just like the collateral damage in wartime. Your support for developers does it extend to those proposing highrise developments in inner Melbourne that change the characters of neighbourhoods and lower the value (and qualitiy of life) of their properties except for similar developments. You are mean spritited person Blair who cannot walk a mile in someone elses shoes.

      3. You’re right Gerard, I cannot walk a mile a mile in anyone’s shoes – because I’ve been in a wheelchair for 36 years. Walking anywhere is impossible – but I’d swap places with any of those landholders in a nanosecond.

        If you think I like people suffering, you’re a fool, I don’t enjoy seeing people whipping themselves into a frenzy over baseless allegations, or because they haven’t bothered to get informed or because manipulators like you would prefer to fan the flames of discontent.

        As we have seen, you aren’t interested in honesty when you can peddle lies, you’re not interested in finding any middle ground, you couldn’t care less about community harmony or mitigating the damage climate change will inflict on millions into the future. So long as you can prolong the argument, you are happy.

  10. Blair as you would know ‘walk a mile in someones shoes’ is a figure of speech so I apoligise for any offence caused as it certainly wasn’t meant to in any way hurt you. I am no fool nor a manipulator or liar and I kinda get sick of your name calling and rudeness. I have always said that turbine placement is a planning issue. So yes I am a great supporter of buffer distances. Noise is an issue, shadow flicker can be an issue but overwhelmingly the greatest issue is that turbines are huge imposition on the landscape. Anything that is 45-50 stories tall in a rural landscape is a massive intrusion and you would be a fool to deny it. Yes I think that there are better ways to address climate change than with windfarms.

  11. Go Blair ! The first application to SG Shire was from the instigator of the local Guardians groups. The link needed would be the Leongatha Star . This person’s application was at first turned down by the SG council staff responsible. However after the applicant went to The Star and stated that he should get a rate reduction AND that the people who had turbines on their farms should be charged higher rates , also threatened “this is just the beginning” ( of his campaign , presumably) the issue went quiet for a while. Then recently the Shire CEO stated that a couple of individuals had been granted a rates reduction DURING THE CONSTRUCTION PHASE. No names due to confidentiality. No reaction in the local paper and I havn’t bothered looking up the issue in the minutes . Bit of a worry about the possible precedent – people near a quarry that is expanding its activities might want a discount too – and what about the neighbours building a big new milking shed ?

    Councillors presumably don’t get involved in the decisions. Some say it is logical that if a property’s earning capacity has been increased by the addition of wind turbines not owned by the farmer ( or telecom towers etc) that its value has increased , therefore rates should reflect this. Not sure about this – if a farmer has excellent pastures this would not affect the rates , which are based on general land and improvements values. And of course the Landscape Guardian telling people that you can improve your place’s value by agreeing to host wind turbines seems to be contradicting his own propaganda.

    1. Hi Wilma, as usual the cowards that there are the misnamed landscape guardians bully and cajole to try and get their way and the council has been silly enough to fall into line. Marvellous what a bit of political linkage can get you.

      As you say, it will set some interesting precedents and again, it will be the ratepayers that wind up suffering the consequences because some selfish individuals get all precious about a wind turbine being in their line of sight.

      Have a look for Christopher Nagel’s letter in the Sentinel Times this week, I will forward you a copy in any case, it’s priceless and called the bluff of the guardians. You’ll love it.

      Hopefully it will appear in Yes2Renewables soon•.
      Cheers,
      Blair.

    2. Hey Wilma, wind farm rates are charged under the Electricity Industry Act 2000 (Vic). Works out to be $40,000 per project plus $900 per MW installed (add CPI to these figs from 2005). This is a pretty good earner for some rural shires. A look at the annual reports from the shires with the big wind farms will demonstrate this.

      Agreed that grant a rates reduction sets a worring preceedent – should one get a rates reduction while the street is being repaired or footpath dug up?

      1. “Agreed that grant a rates reduction sets a worring preceedent – should one get a rates reduction while the street is being repaired or footpath dug up?” I don’t think it sets a worrying precedent at all it is a reality. If a turbine is in your viewshed of course the value of your property would be lower compared to someone without a turbine in their viewshed. Just as if your road was changed from a bitumen seal back to a gravel road it also should be lowered. I know in the rural shire where I live when a road is sealed the rates do go up because your land is now worth more. When conditions change on a long term basis of course the rates should go up or down depending on the circumstance. If a would turbine is within 2ks of your home of course your home would be worth less (less potential buyers – with Blair being the exception) and this should be reflected in the rates.

  12. “it is a reality” If that’s the case, the whole community is subsidizing residents who have subjective bias or a vested interest. That’s sad. What happened to the “stiff cheese” test for these things?

    1. I have been watching this conversation with keen interest and I am not sure what Leeroy is on about especially with his subsidising comment. Land valuations are totally subjective. If I bought a house in Altona next to the oil refinery it would be worth less than one in the same suburb by the beach and the rates would reflect that. If I owned a house with a turbine within view I would expect it to be worth less than one in the same area without a turbine this is not subsidising even though we all get the same services it is the reality. The ‘stiff cheese test’ is what you want to happen to people that have a piece of land then some developer comes along and decides to put turbines on the block next door or a developer who decides to build a multi-story building next to your cottage in the burbs. VCAT is full of cases against the stiff cheese test.

  13. “Land valuations are totally subjective.” No– they are carried out by independent licensed professionals and based on established criteria.
    “If I owned a house with a turbine within view I would expect it to be worth less than one in the same area without a turbine this is not subsidising even though we all get the same services it is the reality.” Your assumption is that all willing buyers and people that live around wind farms hate the look of wind turbines. This is wrong, many people like them .
    So if everyone who has a turbine emerge within their view, and trots off to the Shire office, and then asks for their rates to be reduced who picks up the slack? Their neighbours who have no problem looking at a turbine? Or more $ from the wind company to pass on to electricity consumers – either way subsidised.
    “The ‘stiff cheese test’ is what you want to happen to people that have a piece of land then some developer comes along and decides to put turbines on the block next door or a developer who decides to build a multi-story building next to your cottage in the burbs” No – people should be involved in the decision making process, it’s a democracy. Unless you wish to host a wind turbine on your property in the prohibited areas of Victoria or within 2km of a dictator who says ‘no’ irrespective of whether that can see or hear your turbine.
    “VCAT is full of cases against the stiff cheese test.” If you can find a planning matter where VCAT supported an objector’s grounds relating to the de-valuation of property, I will delete this site from my favorites, never return to it and donate $50 to the Waubra Foundation…

    1. The value that buyers put on land is totally subjective – less potential buyers lower value simple as that. Rate valuers also take into account surrounds and will and do lower or raise rates if cicumstances change as I suggested with the sealing of roads or the building of wind turbines. Most of us care less about rated value (unless it valued to highly) it is the selling value that we care about and there is no doubt that having a wind turbine on your boundary will reduce the number of potential punters. I never mentioned that reduced land values is a reason for VCAT objection it was based on the proposed development whether that be an out of character urban development or a proposed wind farm so please do not make things up. A buffer distance best way to go and I notice that the NSW government has just brought in a 2km buffer from a CSG development. I think you are safe with your $50 as I never mentioned that land devaluation as reason for objection.

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