Protesters plan to speak out against the south-west’s growing number of wind turbines at an open day for the 200 turbine RES wind farm in Penshurst on Saturday.
With the planning approval and announcement of several wind energy projects in the district, The Spectator has fielded numerous calls and letters from people who are angered by the developments.
The opposition has ranged from residents who want the turbines set further away from their properties to people such as Australian Environment Foundation (AEF) executive director Max Rheese who claim Victoria’s wind energy movement is nothing more than a desperate grab for votes by the State Government.
Mr Rheese will help lead Saturday’s protest together with the Southern Grampians Landscape Guardians who have been behind much of this district’s anti-wind farm material.
It is estimated that about 50 people will take part in the peaceful protest, carrying signs and distributing information that they say counters some of the myths about wind energy and explains why governments are so keen to support it.
According to Mr Rheese, the Government’s recent decision to grant planning approvals to a number of wind farms in Victoria was a desperate bid to maintain a green image ahead of the election.
He said the Victorian Labor Party was mindful of the backlash the Federal Government received after changing its stance on the emissions trading scheme and likened the outward support of wind farms to a big public relations exercise.
“It’s a scam, there’s no other way to say it,” he said.
“Open cycle gas turbines are the most efficient and cost effective way of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
“Wind farms are extraordinarily inefficient,” Mr Rheese claimed.
When asked why the Government would be advocating for costly and inefficient wind farms rather than gas-fired power plants, Mr Rheese said “because they have to be seen to be being green” leading up to election day.
Mr Rheese said Victorian’s could expect their power bills to rise further if wind farms continued to be built. He also claimed there were “double standards” when it came to selecting the location for wind farms.
“If it is so good for the environment, why is there a blanket ban on wind farms for areas of indigenous heritage and state parks?” he asked.
“There’s nothing in the guidelines to protect rural communities.”
Aside from costing and planning issues, the Landscape Guardians and AEF are pointing to possible health effects associated with living near wind turbines, particularly the work of Waubra Foundation medical director Sarah Laurie.
Dr Laurie said she was aware of patients from the Portland area who were presenting with symptoms including high blood pressure, nausea and a sensation of being over-alert.
“People are having trouble getting to sleep, or they are waking up buzzing as if they have just had 10 cups of coffee,” she said.
The South Australian GP said she wasn’t entirely sure why people were experiencing this hyper-alertness but thought it may be linked with infrasound and the State Government should investigate before approving any more development.
“What I’m saying is in the light of health concerns … there should be a temporary halt in construction until it’s been investigated,” Dr Laurie said.
The AEF has echoed Dr Laurie, asking the Government to delay any more planning approvals until an independent review into the cost of wind energy, any health impacts associated with wind farms and the actual benefit to carbon emissions had been completed.
Mr Rheese was confident an independent review would validate his stance against wind farms but could not guarantee the AEF would accept any findings which found in favour of wind energy.
Instead he could only say it was “highly likely” the group would accept the findings, provided the review adhered to a number of guidelines.
RES developer Simon Kerrison welcomed the presence of the Landscape Guardians and the AEF to the open day.
“We’d like to invite as many people as possible to come along,” he said.
“We think it’s important they come and have their opinions heard and then we can perhaps incorporate them into the final design.”
Mr Kerrison said RES would answer questions about health-effects and the costs and benefits of wind energy at the open day.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding