When VCAT handed down its finding for Infigen’s Cherry Tree Range wind farm at the end of November some Mitchell Shire residents were quick to air their views on the outcome. Last week (on 4th December 2013) the Seymour Telegraph published a two page article about the case, incorporating views from across the spectrum of opinion, including two letters to the editor.
At the weekend, Infigen Energy hosted its second annual Run With The Windevent at the Woodlawn wind farm. This year’s fun run around the 23 wind turbines near Bungendore, New South Wales attracted 600 participants–including the Liberal Member for Hume, Angus Taylor.
Angus Taylor’s participation in the event is somewhat of a surprise given his track record of bagging wind energy.
Taylor is the poster child of the clandestine anti-wind farm site Stop These Things. The site’s anonymous bloggers laud Taylor for his wind bashing. They describe the member for Hume this way:
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 Crikeydescribes 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.
Over the last few years the rollout of wind farms in Australia has faced some setbacks, yet the sector’s fortunes are changing.
In 2011 Victoria’s Coalition government imposed onerous restrictions on wind farms, which stalled the sector’s development and cost thousands of jobs and billions in investment in that state.
More recently on a national level, Senators Madigan and Xenophon have pushed similarly restrictive legislation in the Senate and the Coalition’s reluctance to support the 41,000 GWh Renewable Energy Target is creating uncertainty for developers.
The impact of these policy issues have been amplified by a noisy minority of anti-wind farm campaigners. The Waubra Foundation and website, Stop These Things, among others, have attempted to turn the public against clean, renewable energy generated from the wind.
Taking a chapter out of the climate deniers playbook, they consistently raise doubts about the technology. The anti-wind lobby repeatedly claim wind farms cause 233 health problems despite 19 reviews showing wind energy to be clean and safe.
While the anti-wind farm campaign has bought into its own rhetoric, the Australian public hasn’t. Poll after poll shows the majority of Australians support more wind farms. These people come from all walks of life – blue-collar workers who see the jobs potential of the sector; farmers who want to drought-proof their land by hosting turbines; and environmentally conscious community members who want to be a part of climate change solutions.
Critics of wind farms often cite the timing of wind energy – and its apparent mis-match with peak demand, as one of its greatest deficiencies. This Graph of the Day, however, shows that it is often not the case.
The graph(s) of the day from Infigen Energy shows how production from its Capital wind farm near Bungendore has coincided with incidences of peak demand in NSW, when price events have jumped to more than 300/MWh.
According to Infigen Energy, there have been 162 half hour intervals with prices greater than $300/MWh in the period from July 1, 2009 and January 31, 20013.
Yes 2 Renewables has partnered with a Central Victorian community environment group to fight back against anti-wind farm activists who have run a scare-campaign surrounding a proposed wind farm at Cherry Tree Range, in Trawool.
Opponents of the wind farm held town hall meetings, spammed the letters-to-the-editor columns in local newspapers, and distributed pamphlets making claims about wind energy that are not supported by the evidence. Nonetheless, the constant presence of anti-wind farm propaganda has convinced some in the community that the Cherry Tree Range proposal is bad news.
Lancefield is a small country town nestled in the rolling hills of central Victoria. The town’s location in the Macedon Ranges places it in one of the Baillieu government’s designated ‘no-go zones‘ for wind farms.
The township is also located in the middle of two contrasting community responses to wind energy: To the west, the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group is spearheading efforts to build a community-owned wind farm project in Woodend. To the east, Mitchell Shire councilors rejected the proposed Cherry Tree Hill wind farm in Trawool despite the project meeting stringent planning guidelines and being recommended for approval by council planners.
At the weekend, Yes 2 Renewables recommenced its 2012 community engagement program with a listening post at the Lancefield & District Farmers Market. The stall gave Y2R the opportunity to engage the community in a dialogue on the potential role of wind farms in the region. The Weekly Times picked up on our presence at the farmers market and filed the following report.
Anti-wind farm lobbyists are an organised bunch. Whenever a wind farm project is proposed, anti-wind energy activists come to town with their traveling propaganda show and a bevy of blow ins.
A few weeks ago, I attended my first such meeting. It was held in Trawool, some 15kms south east of Seymour, where Infigen Energy have proposed a 16 turbine, 50 megawatt wind farm for Cherry Tree Range.
Seasoned anti-wind farm group the Australian Environment Foundation (originally established by the right-wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs) was prominent at the event—which I can report receives top marks for propaganda. The event featured photographs of wind turbines on fire without context; a well-produced video with melodramatic music and sound effects for maximum persuasion; and guest speakers who made spurious claims about the health impacts of wind farms.
I recommend attending these meetings if you ever have the chance. If you have the confidence to ask a few questions or present good news stories about wind farms then you would be doing a service to communities who are the target of a scare campaign.
The Cherry Tree Wind Farm is in early stages of development, with a forecast installed capacity of 50 MW.
It is in the Trawool/Whiteheads Creek area, just south east of Seymour.
The proposal includes:
Construction of 16 wind turbines with a height of approximately 150 metres (pole height of 100 metres and blade height of 50 metres)
Associated infrastructure including a substation, overhead and underground cabling, site office and an operations building
Earthworks to allow access to the site
Removal of native vegetation to facilitate access and infrastructure on the site
A number of information sessions were held by the proponent (Infigen Energy) in December 2011. An anti-wind meeting was held in August 2012.
The Cherry Tree proposal is currently on public display. While the formal period for submissions is now over, Council have indicated that they will consider submissions up until the time it takes a decision on the proposal.
The following article from the Blayney Chronicle is one of many that have picked up on the information from our Freedom of Information request to NSW Health. Doubt cast on wind turbine illness claims 26 Jan, 2012 Confidential briefings given … Continue reading “Doubt cast on wind turbine illness claims”