As the VCAT hearing on the Cherry Tree Range wind farm enters its final stage this week, one of Australia’s leading public health experts has exposed shoddy submissions made by anti-wind farm activists.
Simon Chapman, Professor in Public Health at the University of Sydney, has critically reviewed the submissions made by known anti-wind farm activists Sarah Laurie (‘Waubra’ Foundation) and Patina Schneider (Industrial Wind Turbine Awareness Mudgee Alliance).
“These submissions are quite lamentable. If they were handed in as assignments by undergraduates, I’m afraid there would be many tears,” said Professor Chapman. “Neither Sarah Laurie nor Patina Schneider has any training or experience in research, and are open opponents of wind farms. These problems and biases are obvious throughout their submissions.”
Professor Chapman says the anti-wind farm campaigners continue to ignore reviews published by credible health organisations such as the Victorian Department of Health.
“There have now been 19 reviews of the available evidence about wind farms and health published internationally. These reviews have concluded there is no strong evidence that they make people ill,” Professor Chapman added.
The VCAT hearing is just the latest battleground for anti-wind farm campaigners. We told Shannon Twomey of The Weekly Times that the VCAT hearing is yet another example of outside anti-wind farm groups hijacking the planning system to fight an ideological battle. Sarah Laurie and Patina Schneider reside a distance of 930 and 655 kilometres from the site of the proposed wind farm in Trawool.
Though Mitchell Shire planners recommended approving the wind farm, Councillors refused to vote on the proposal. It is now opposed to the wind farm on planning grounds, yet explicitly stated to VCAT it is will not mount an argument relating to alleged health impacts of wind energy.
Local councillors failed to rule on the wind farm because they were spooked by an effective anti-wind farm scare campaign late last year. Now that the fear has died down, people are ready to consider the benefits of wind energy.
According to Friends of the Earth estimates the Cherry Tree Range wind farm would:
- Generate up to $80,000 for a community fund each year.
- Contribute $76,000 worth of rates to the Mitchell Shire 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 local wind farmers.
The Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposal demonstrates the anti-wind farm laws passed by former Premier Ted Baillieu in 2011 simply aren’t working.
Wind energy planning decisions are being made based on politics not sound science. Anti-wind farm activists have bogged down the planning system with spurious research and pseudoscience.
Political leadership is needed to restore fairness to the planning scheme and prevent the anti-wind farm lobby groups from putting jobs and drought-proof income at risk.
To date, Premier Napthine has shown no interest in restoring fair laws for wind farms and has left his predecessors policy failure intact.
Just last week, Labor party shadow planning minister Brian Tee promised to “rip up” the state’s anti-wind farm laws if taking office.
Friends of the Earth welcome Labor party’s commitment to restore sensible planning laws for wind farms and encourage all political parties to adopt policies that encourage more wind farms for the state. It’s what Victorians want.