The 2007 National Rural Woman of the Year, Debbie Bain, has called for more transparency, more facts, better governance and a calmer, in fact, more informed debate in the bitter wind farm argument.
Having been lauded for bridging the gap between country and city communities, Ms Bain ironically now finds herself involved in a divide in her own Victorian country community over a proposed wind farm development.
Her perspective is rare, given she is also set to significantly benefit financially, from the 170-200 tower Stockyard Hills development on her own property west of Ballarat, Vic.
She is presently weighing up the gain of hosting at least 10, 100-120 metre wind turbines on her property against community and environmental impacts.
“I don’t object to towers on my or my neighbour’s place,” she said.
“In the right position, they can look lovely.
“The prospect however, of living in a ‘forest’ of wind towers is quite another thing.”
She said there could be up to three companies operating up to 500 towers in her near vicinity in future, if and when the farms at Waubra and Crowlands are built.
“It seems at the moment, there are few rules or guiding principles governing the proposal and construction of wind farms,” she said.
Ms Bain wants to see an impartial, known body to oversee a clear, public, blueprint of a renewable energy plan that takes Australia into the future, based on well thought out social and environmental impact studies with unbiased scientific evidence of the real efficiencies of wind power.
Ms Bain said, “The Spring Street push, to have 10 per cent of our energy from sustainable sources by 2016, is a good goal.
“We need, however, to examine the underlying costs.
“Rural communities bear the brunt of this production and will not be the major recipients.”
That said, Ms Bain is not a staunch advocate against wind farms per se and is still considering signing the lease for the towers on her property.
She said, “I strongly believe we do need to take the first steps towards emission free energy production.
“Wind power is a first step, and although burdened with unanswered questions, is probably a step in the right direction.
“However, it should not ruin what our country communities treasure.”
Wind Power Ptd Ltd is hoping to build the Stockyard Hills farm.
Company spokesman, Andrew Newbold, who is interviewed on the audio attached to this story, said the independent government panel to be appointed would provide such a voice as requested by Ms Bain.
This week, a $140 million wind farm proposal for Victoria has been killed by the company planning to build the wind farm in Gippsland.
By Marius Cuming
16 August 2007
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