The dark side of wind farm developments – loss of visual amenity, a 30 per cent decrease in property values, shadow flicker, noise, unsettled horses and cattle – was exposed at a public meeting at Scone RSL on Sunday.
About 130 residents heard from those who have witnessed wind farm developments destroy communities not only by pitting one neighbour against another, but by devastating the landscape forever, first-hand.
An uprising of concern by residents, who will neighbour Pamada’s proposed 45 wind turbine development on Mountain and Middlebrook Stations on the outset of Scone, saw Sunday’s forum called.
Those who formed the panel set out to ‘dispel’ the clean, green image of wind farms.
“Don’t be fooled, they don’t work … you need to know the other side,” Dollar Affected Residents Network (DARN) spokesperson, Craig Falconer told the crowd.
Mr Falconer fought a 48 turbine development proposed for Dollar, near Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, after witnessing the ramifications a wind farm 10 kilometres away in Toora had on the community.
In Toora, residents within a two kilometre radius of the turbines were forced to put up with the low shuddering sound of the blades, which had a “dripping tap syndrome” effect.
Along with this, for a number of months every year their homes became a light show with the turbines causing shadow flicker.
Many were so impacted they decide to sell up and leave their homes only to find their property value had decreased by 30 per cent.
They were angered by the property owners who had said yes to having the wind towers on their properties and community sentiment split the once tight-knit community.
This scenario has been witnessed around the world.
Mr Falconer explained that farmers in the neighbouring dairy farming region had noticed an increase in mastitis, which they believed had been caused by the turbines.
He said if cows were affected then horses could be too, something Scone can not afford to happen.
“The wind farm companies will give you all the guarantees under the sun that they won’t affect you.
“They will tell you what they think you want to hear,” Mr Falconer warned.
Potential problems with a wind farm development in Scone did not end there though.
A Parks and Wildlife spokesperson told the meeting the proposed site is home to a number of flora and fauna and wildlife species, which also might be adversely impacted.
The panel also delivered some startling statistics on the economic benefits of wind farms.
President of the Victorian Landscape Guardians (VLG), Randall Bell, explained wind had an incurable and fatal disease and that was intermittency and instability.
He said turbines could only operate when the wind was blowing at a certain speed, too fast and they shut down, too slow and they can’t start.
Fellow VLG member, Reg Brownell said although accurate figures are hard to get, wind towers usually only operate 30 to 35 per cent of the time and given wind power is 70 per cent more expensive than conventional power, the costs just don’t add up.
“Why won’t the government release these costs . . . they need to look at all the alternatives and make coal fired generators more efficient,” he said.
When the floor was opened up for questions, the question on most people’s lips was, how do we stop this development?
Especially when the crowd was asked on a number of occasions by Brisbane Rangers Landscape Guardians, Kevin Ramholt, “Are you willing to sacrifice all of this (the Scone landscape) for a few measly bucks?
“You need to ask if they are going to take that away from me they should have a good reason.”
There was a real feeling of people power by the end of the meeting.
The advice from the panel, work together and let the developer know, if you come here you are in for a pretty big fight.
13 September 2007
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