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Community meeting stirs up emotions

Spa Country Landscape Gaurdians released hundreds of yellow balloons to protest against the proposed Stoney Rises wind farm at a community meeting in Smeaton on Sunday.

About 50 protesters expressed their disapproval of Wind Power Pty Ltd’s plan to erect wind turbines.

The rally group argued that 96 per cent of residents within a five kilometre radius of the proposed site were opposed to the development.

Wind Power Pty Ltd, who initiated the meeting, invited the group to set up a stall at the Smeaton Bowling Club.

Protesters confronted the Wind Power Pty Ltd representatives with signs saying “Toss Tuki Turbines”.

Wind Power Pty Ltd director Andrew Newbold said many community members who were in support of the proposal attended, but weren’t as noisy as protesters.

Mr Newbold said the day was successful overall apart from when protesters became excessively vocal.

“At one point the guardians got fairly rowdy. A lady was forced to take her baby home because of them.”

He also said another company director, Steve Buckle, had been individually targeted by protesters.

“Ten or so guardians circled Steve and started shouting and pointing at him. But he handled it really well,” Mr Newbold said.

Spa Country Landscape Guardians spokesperson Will Elsworth said the protesters were noisy because the wind company said it would drop the proposal if there was too much disapproval from locals.

He said the group wanted the message to be clear.

“Again, the majority of people there on Sunday were against the wind farms. It was an overwhelming response,” he said.

“At the end of the day they (wind companies) are just after a quick buck.”

Mr Elsworth said Wind Power should have received the anti wind farm message after Sunday’s meeting.

Wind Power is establishing a community reference committee and Mr Newbold welcomed members of the landscape guardians’ to join.

“It’s great that five of the guardians have put their names down to be on the board. We welcome them,” he said.

The Advocate

5 June 2007