Town hall meetings are a longstanding feature of democratic engagement in Australia. Those following the development of wind energy will be well aware of the evolution (or should that be de-evolution) of the community meeting.
At first, town hall meetings were used as a way for the nascent wind energy sector to engage the community, explain how the technology works, and the outline benefits wind farming can have for our economy and environment. In recent times, however, town hall meetings have been stacked by anti-wind farm activists and have become a hotbed for what might be called ‘anti-enlightenment’ extremism.
The latest example of a well-meaning town hall meeting ending in was held in Baringhup, Victoria. The Mount Alexander Community Wind have identified the central Victorian town as a potential location for a community-initiated and owned wind farm. The proposal would see two to four windmills erected to offset the carbon emissions generated by electricity consumption in Castlemaine and surrounding towns. The project is anticipated to power at least 3000 homes and reduce the town’s carbon footprint by 50 percent.
The benefits of the project sound great, don’t they? But not everyone is convinced. Unfortunately, some in the community have been duped by psuedo-scientific nonsense claiming wind farms cause a range of health problems (‘wind turbines cause can
scer’ can be seen spray-painted in the Baringhup area).
A local newspaper published an eyewitness account of the meeting. The author, Graham Pitts of Maldon, has kindly allowed Yes 2 Renewables to republish it:
[On Tuesday March 19], I was lucky enough to attend a public meeting about a proposed small wind farm in Baringhup. I urge all readers to go to any future such gatherings because for sheer entertainment value they surely can’t be surpassed. The important thing is to make sure there will be representatives from the two anti-wind farm groups present last night. Some of these were on the panel of speakers and the rest of them were stacked together down the front with carefully written questions to ask their leaders. Continue reading “Dispatch from a town hall meeting… Baringhup, Victoria”