renewable-energy-470x260

Wind farm benefits, concerns, and resolution

renewable-energy-470x260Earlier in April, The Weekly Times published an editorial on wind energy that covered the factors surrounding wind farms development, its beneficiaries, and detractors:

Wind farm benefits and concerns must be considered

VICTORIA enjoys an abundance of brown coal, which has provided cheap electrical power for generations. It also has the best wind resources of any state on the Australian mainland. Both energy sources have people in a spin.

Climate change is already a very real consideration for those on the land who are confused by mixed messages on the subject by our leaders. Hazelwood Power Station in the Latrobe Valley is supposedly the worst polluter in the nation yet it produces a hefty chunk of Victoria’s baseload power.

For all the 500 wind turbines already scattered around the state, causing division wherever they go, their collective power output fails to match a single Hazelwood. Wind may be the cheapest of the renewable energies but overseas companies need taxpayer support to compete with the Hazelwoods.

Still, it is impossible to not be excited by the $5 billion on offer for this next wave of wind farm investment in rural Victoria. Western Victoria, in particular, stands to benefit the most from this investment.

Cash- and population-poor municipal councils wouldn’t be doing their job if they weren’t chasing their slice of this rich pie.

Yet not everyone shares the same love of wind turbines. Curiously, those claiming to suffer health problems from the spinning blades are never those living closest, those who enjoy the rewards of sharing their land.

It goes beyond these spurious health claims to a wider community upset with a technology, which is necessarily large and obvious.

This is likely a long-term change to their beloved landscape. In our excitement, we still must hear their voice as well.

Ben Courtice of the Moorabool Environment Group chimed in with the following letter to the editor, which is worth reading:

Your editorial “wind power brings concerns” nailed it as far as what drives opposition to wind energy.

Long term change to the landscape does annoy many of us from time to time. When I was 8, I had a long term change to my landscape: my family lost our farm and moved to the city.

Now I’m back living in the country. One thing I like about wind farms is that they help to reverse the trend of all the jobs, young people, investment, land ownership, decisions etc going to the cities and big industry.

Because wind power is necessarily quite decentralised, and with current arrangements for rates/land rent etc, it’s putting a lot of money and jobs back into rural communities and revitalising them.

We all have to deal with change these days, let’s make it a positive one and not keep rolling on into dangerous climate change.

It’s a shame wind energy has gained a reputation for dividing communities. Yet it’s not surprising, given how vested interests and politicians opposed to wind farms have demonised the technology since the late 2000s.

Though wind energy has faced 13 reviews by governments or government agencies since 2010, and the fact that there are 24 reviews on the purported wind/health link, we must have another.

On November 24, 2014, the Australian Senate established a select committee chaired by Senator John Madigan (Victoria) to “inquire into and report on the application of regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines.”

The way the current inquiry is unfolding, which looks more like a witch-hunt than an unbiased review, the division over wind energy is likely to continue.

The tension over wind energy that exists in some communities will only be resolved when politicians show leadership, rather than seeing it as an opportunity for political gain and advancing an ideological agenda.

TAKE ACTION:

  • Y2R_graphic_editSign our petition calling for Senator Madigan to run a fair wind energy inquiry.
  • Make a submission to the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines today. Yes 2 Renewables has put together the following resource and fact sheet to help you have your say. Submissions close on Monday 4 May.
  • Support our campaign by getting involved or making a donation.
  • Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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