Planning body dismisses anti-wind farm lobby claims. Will VCAT follow suit?

Trawool in Central Victoria, location of a proposed 15 turbine wind farm.

As the VCAT hearings on the Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposal is scheduled to resume at the end of the month (September 27), another Infigen wind farm has received the tick of approval from a planning commission.

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) has ruled in favour of the Bodangora wind farm and dismissed health concerns brought to the attention of commissioners by anti-wind farm campaigners–including the likes of Sarah Laurie, who Crikey describes as a “well-known anti-wind farm campaigner.”

The PAC’s approval of the Bodangora wind farm shows that planning authorities base their decisions on credible research, not pseudoscience claiming that wind farms harm human health.

Given that there are 19 reviews by credible health bodies that show wind farms are clean and safe, the PAC’s decision to approve the wind farm is no surprise.

Friends of the Earth would hope VCAT take the ruling of the PAC into account when deciding the fate of the Cherry Tree Range proposal.

The anti-wind farm lobby has made a concerted effort to turn the Mitchell Shire community against the Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposal.

In September 2012, the Landscape Guardians–a group founded by fossil fuel investor Peter Mitchell–held a town hall meeting in Trawool featuring known anti-wind farm campaigners Donald Thomas, Noel Dean and Max Rheese. The latter, Mr Rheese, is the executive director of the climate change denier organisation, the Australian Climate Science Coalition. All of the speakers made the argument that wind farms harm human health.

The anti-wind farm organisers’ fear campaign divides communities and distracts people from the local benefits of renewable energy.

The Cherry Tree Range will deliver jobs and drought-proof income for farmers and the community. It will allow the region to claim a leadership position in addressing climate change.

Based on Friends of the Earth estimates, the Cherry Tree Range wind farm will:

  • Generate up to $80,000 for a community fund each year.
  • Contribute $76,000 worth of rates per annum.
  • Inject $1.2 million worth of flow on economic benefit to the local economy.
  • Produce enough electricity to power 26,000 homes and prevent 150,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere each year
  • Provide $250,000 worth of steady income for wind farmers.

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 11.21.11 AMWhat did the NSW Planning Assessment Commission find? 

  • “In relation to infrasound, NSW Health echoed the advice of the World Health Organization, which has stated that there is no reliable evidence that sounds below the hearing threshold produce physiological or psychological effects.”  (page 5)
  • “NSW Health noted that the symptoms reported by residents concerned by wind farms are also reported by those living near other new developments of various kinds. Studies suggest these symptoms are suggestible, ie. if individuals are expecting to be impacted they will be more likely to report symptoms. It was also suggested that the visibility of the turbines influenced the likelihood of complaints from a neighbour.” (page 6)
  • “The Commission has accepted the advice of NSW Health, noting it is consistent with that of other health authorities, such as the Victorian Department of Health, and is satisfied that the proposal does not represent a health risk to the local community, including those at the correctional centre.”  (page 6)
  • “NSW Health also made it clear that noise levels at distances of more than one km from the turbines would not cause health impacts…” (page 6)
  • “…the Commission is satisfied the wind turbines will not impact on human health.” (page 7)

One thought on “Planning body dismisses anti-wind farm lobby claims. Will VCAT follow suit?

  1. I really hope VCAT has the good sense to give due regard to the available science rather than bow to the noisy distortions of a few selfish individuals opposing the project. If the developer meets all the required guidelines, there should be no reason to oppose the project.

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