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Call to probe turbine failure

Hobart people are being used as guinea pigs in an experiment to test untried wind turbines, Hobart City Council aldermen said last night.

They expressed fury at the failure and damage to the turbines on Hobart’s waterfront Marine Board building on August 11, coming after the council had included safety concerns in its opposition to the turbines.

Aldermen said turbines had not been tested in built-up areas, only on wind farms.

The Sullivans Cove Waterfront Authority approved the Marine Board turbines.

The council agreed to call on Workplace Standards Tasmania to ensure the turbines proposed for the ANZ building in the Elizabeth Bus Mall are not built until investigation into the turbine failure has been completed.

“This has nothing to do with aesthetics or whether they look good … it relates simply and solely to safety,” Ald Peter Sexton said. “It appears there are no proper Australian standards, particularly safety standards for turbines, and that is a real worry.”

Aldermen voted eight to three to support his move to write to Workplace Standards Tasmania to seek assurances and investigations and also that if standards did not exist, to pursue them.

Ald Marti Zucco spoke angrily about the situation.

“There are more rules about hand basins in restaurants than wind turbines,” he said.

“Isn’t it amazing they switched them [the turbines] back on before they got the full report [they were later stopped]. I’m negotiating for solar panels on my house, because they are safe.”

Ald Jeff Briscoe said the incident could set back the “greening” of Hobart.

“I hate to say it, but I told you so. [This is what happens] when people rush in without doing all the research. Maybe the solution should be solar or rather passive solutions.”

Ald Ron Christie said approval had focused on aesthetics: “Not one word on safety. With the ANZ building’s, which I opposed, not once did concerns about public health and safety come into it.”

Ald Eva Ruzicka said the council was acting too hastily and should wait until the workplace safety report.

Greens Ald Bill Harvey said it should not be an opportunity to “turbine bash” or “green bash”, although he took back the words “green bash”.

“Let’s not shut down an industry because there’s a problem with the first project,” he said.

Aldermen said developers would not need to build turbines in city areas if the Federal Government allowed them to invest in wind power on wind farms.

Developer Robert Rockefeller benefited from a Federal Government grant to install the turbines.