In Australia the noisy and misleading petitions of the anti-wind farm lobby, and the politicians who echo these claims, tend to drown out the quiet successes that have been accumulating across the country since the industry’s inception.
It is for this reason that stories like those of Ararat farmer Graeme Maconachie’s (see video below produced by our friends, the Victorian Wind Alliance) can still provide a potent reminder of wind power’s ready benefits to struggling rural economies, but also to the prospects of future generations.
Projects like the 52.5MW Challicum Hills wind farm featured in the video, which has supplied the region with much needed employment, investment and emissions abatement (140,000 tones p.a) opportunities since 2002, however, are at risk.
On 1 November 2013, the Waubra community ramped up its campaign to reclaim its name from an anti-wind farm lobby group. They sent an petition of 316 signatures, including 179 from the local area, to the Waubra Foundation asking them to stop using the town’s name.
More than two weeks on and the Waubra community are still waiting for a formal response. This is despite the fact that foundation chief executive Sarah Laurie has acknowledged the petition during a radio interview.
Waubra residents are, quite rightly, disappointed by the foundation’s silence.
“The Waubra community is passionate to have our name back and we’re very determined to see this process through,” said local resident, Karen Molloy.
Senator Madigan, whose credibility on wind farms has been thoroughly debunked, has had a letter published in The Courierrebutting Andrew Bray of the VicWind Alliance. In it, the Senator perpetuates claims wind farms cause health impacts. Madigan refers to the “real-life consequences of wind turbines” and argues the wind energy/health issue must be “fully investigated by independent organisations before our landscape becomes dotted with more and more turbines.”
The Courier was sent the following letter by Yes 2 Renewables:
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.
If there are two things about wind farms that we know from decades of experience both here and overseas, it’s that wind is quiet and having more wind in the grid reduces the cost of power.
It’s a source of constant frustration that when opponents of wind try to argue that the opposite is the case, they routinely ignore the wads of credible research that exist if that research doesn’t suit their argument. People living in wind communities deserve better treatment than this and deserve to have access to real information.
Groups representing wind workers and community members hand delivered a joint statement to the Premier’s electorate office in Warrnambool. The joint statement called for Dr Napthine to rewrite anti-wind farm planning laws and unlock jobs in southwest Victoria.
Several media outlets reported on the joint statement:
Just three weeks after Premier Napthine opened the Macarthur wind farm, a coalition of southwest Victorian and supporting groups have released a joint statement calling on the Premier to rewrite anti-wind farm planning laws and unlock jobs in southwest Victoria.
The joint statement will be hand delivered to staff at Premier Napthine’s electorate office this morning.
The powerful coalition of pro-wind energy voices who spearheaded the joint statement include:
The anti-wind farm campaign showed an ugly side to its character at the weekend when Randall Bell, President of the Victorian Landscape Guardians, threatened to “break” Premier Dennis Napthine’s arms if he overturns the state’s retrograde wind farm laws.
In a Herald Sun report on the prospect of Premier Napthine “easing” anti-wind farm laws imposed by his predecessor Ted Baillieu, Randell Bell issued the following warning: “If Dr Napthine reneges on that policy, I’ll break his arms.”
The violent rhetoric of Mr Bell is troubling. Threatening the Premier is just the latest nastiness to come from some in the anti-wind farm campaign.
In late 2009, a mob of hostile anti-wind farm activists took over a community information meeting on wind farms in Colac manhandled then Energy Minister Peter Batchelor. The activists jammed Minister Batchellor’s leg in a car door. Federal member for Corangamite, Darren Cheeseman, has also received threats from wind power opponents.