The proposed Cherry Tree Range wind farm has made the small town of Trawool ground zero for anti-wind farm activists seeking to stall the rollout of crucial renewable energy projects. Over the last few months, people who live in Trawool, Seymour and surrounding areas, have been active in the letters to the editor columns of regional newspapers.
The Seymour Telegraph published the following letter to the editor on January 9, 2013, that outlines some of the scare campaign that has occurred. It is republished here with permission from the author:
‘Look Beyond Hysteria’
We’ve seen a great deal of hype and hysteria about wind power in our local media over the past several months. Like other propagandists before them, anti-wind farm campaigners have attempted to target the vulnerabilities of human emotion by using a campaign based on fear.
What we’ve seen are loaded messages to produce an emotional, rather than rational response, to the very narrow and selective information they’ve presented: fears for negative impacts on our health; fears that we’ll be decimating our bird and animal populations; fears that wind turbines will deter tourists from visiting our area, and more.
One irony is that ‘wind turbine syndrome’ – which typically presents as classic symptoms of anxiety and stress – has been found to develop before even a single turbine has been erected, and is associated with localities where a high level of anti-wind farm activism is present. The power of emotions indeed!
The latest effort to garner our fear – attempting to associate wind turbines with an increased incidence of bush fire – has the reader wondering whether wind turbines must be exploding like incendiary devices all across the globe.
This paper’s readership will likely have applied common sense and already appreciate that this is not the case at all. Interestingly, it has been found that wind turbines can actually offer the land some protection from lightning strikes. In a landscape without turbines, lightning can indeed start fire as it strikes the ground or trees (as was the case at Whiteheads Creek). However, pop in a few wind turbines on a piece of land and they may be found to earth the lightning and bring it to ground harmlessly, without fire. Thus, wind farms already existing in other parts of Victoria and across our neighbouring states of South Australia and NSW continue to go about their job without catastrophe.
It takes minimal effort these days to find reliable sources of impartial information, of extensive evidence, along with the details and outcomes of recognised research and studies that can help each of us reach a rational decision about the question of wind power for the Cherry Tree range, and for any other appropriate locations across the Mitchell Shire. I’m just one of many who would enthusiastically welcome wind power to Mitchell (and yes, even in my back yard!).
Renewable energy sources are no longer just a nice option for us, they are a necessity. Recent scientific evidence and further government reviews demonstrate that the effects of climate change are to be swifter, greater and more adverse than we ever imagined. No longer can we just push this problem onto our next generation to solve, we must address it right now and bring renewable energy to the Mitchell Shire. So let’s get down to it! Not with the hysteria and deception that we have seen used by anti wind farm campaigners, but with selflessness, honesty and a sense of community cooperation. Let’s pass onto our children and grandchildren the solution, not the problem.
– Sarah Durrant MBE, Kilmore