As the window for submissions for the Bodangora wind farm proposal rapidly closes in – submissions are due by August 6 – the Bodangora Wind Farm Awareness Group will hold an information meeting to discuss their concerns.
The Infigen Energy proposal is for 33 wind turbines about 20 kilometres north-east of Wellington, involving at least five landowners, and will generate enough electricity (333 gigawatts) to power 35,000 homes annually.
Member of the Bodangora group Mike Lyons said nearby landholders did not feel they’d been given enough opportunity to officially oppose the development, and thought there should be a moratorium on wind farm developments until more research on the health impacts of wind farms had been conducted.
“They’ve (Infigen Energy) had years to prepare the environmental impact statement – we’ve only got 60 days and then they’ve got another crack at it,” Mr Lyons said.
He also said they didn’t receive any direct contact from Infigen about the proposal until mid last year, which he said should have happened much earlier.
He was also critical of the Wellington Council which he said failed to make any submissions to the government for its draft wind farm guidelines.
Mr Lyons said the Bodangora proposal had caused division in the community, driven by the “secrecy” of the dealings with landowners and gag clauses placed on individuals.
“If I had to describe wind turbines I would call them the asbestos of the renewable energy industry – when (asbestos) first came out we thought it was okay,” he said.
“Really at the end of the day there’s been very little research done on the health impacts.”
Infigen senior development manager Jonathon Upson said he had been invited to the meeting but was still considering whether he would attend, citing a lack of equal time for each speaker as the reason.
“For people coming to the meeting to learn about the project you’d think they’d want to hear each side on equal terms,” he said.
However, Mr Lyons said, while speaking times were yet to be decided, Infigen would get an equal timeslot to the other speakers.
Mr Upson said if he attended he was happy to discuss wind energy in general, the Bodangora project specifically and whether wind farms had a direct impact on health.
Speakers will also include South Australian wind turbine host David Mortimer who has broken his gag clause to speak about his own experience; chief executive officer of the Waubra Foundation Sarah Laurie and Upper Lachlan Shire councillor Malcolm Barlow who will speak about his experience in an established wind farm area.
Mr Lyons said the group had sent invitations to all known developers of wind farms in NSW.
The meeting will be held at the Wellington Civic Centre from 1pm on July 22 and will include a question and answer session.