Latrobe Valley resident slams wind technology’s detractors and dirty coal

Victoria's Hazlewood coalmine fire.
Victoria’s Hazlewood coalmine fire.

Two weeks ago Senator John Madigan (Democratic Labor Party) confounded the chamber by likening the renewable energy sector’s citation of leading Australian and international research on the safety of proximity to wind farms to the Tobacco industries’ manipulation of the medical establishment in the early twentieth century.

The invocation of the spectre of such insidious corporate intent, however, has failed to weaken the growing strength of the argument in support of wind farms while at the same time demonstrating the intensifying desperation of the anti-wind fringe.

Latrobe Valley resident and convener of the Latrobe Valley Sustainability Group, Danny Caffrey, wrote Senator Madigan in response to his claims. Mr Caffrey has shared this letter with Yes 2 Renewables in order to highlight the ridiculousness of any such comparison to wind energy technology, particulary when that of the more pollutant and unsafe, i.e. coal, continues largely unchallenged.

Dear Sen. Madigan.

As a resident of the polluted and degraded Latrobe Valley region of Victoria, I find your comparing the actions of wind farm operators with tobacco companies outrageous and uninformed. In the case of the tobacco companies, they told lies and disputed proper scientifically based conclusions on the adverse health affects of smoking for 40 years. The wind farm operators are simply abiding by the findings of rigorously conducted scientific investigations into the health effects from wind farms that have always found that there are no adverse health impacts beyond stress caused in those who don’t want them near where they live.

This has been virtually the same conclusion for over 20 major wind farm studies conducted across the globe in the last 5 or 6 years. I would suggest that you are also aware of the nocebo effect that is in play, where if you tell someone that they are about to be exposed to something that will make them sick, then they do exhibit the symptoms whether they were actually ‘exposed’ or not. This has been the practice of the Waubra Foundation who simply go to every area where a wind farm is proposed and tell the people that they will get ill.  Hence the unsustainable backlash against the development.

Believe me, after experiencing the recent choking smoke and the low levels of grit and particulate matter in the air that has always been associated with the brown coal fired electricity in this part of the world, causing higher respiratory disease and asthma rates, I can assure you that I and an increasing number of other Gippslanders  would much rather a wind turbine in the neighbourhood than a coal fired power station.

Please refrain from making any more unsubstantiated claims like you did recently and if you do, can you state your interests – financial or otherwise in supporting a dirty, polluting, greenhouse gas producing, ancient technology, destroyer of land and amenity, employing fewer people now than it did in the 1940’s which is what  the coal industry in Gippsland is today. We need to phase coal fired power stations out, not give them more life by preventing the alternative wind industry from progressing.

Kindest Regards

Dan Caffrey, Traralgon

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