November 19, 2010

Too close for comfort

Alex Weaver, The Standard, 19 November 2010

Green energy isn’t meant to come at the expense of sleep.

But that’s the reality for Paul Cross, who says a small wind turbine operating on the grounds of the Port Fairy Consolidated School keeps him awake at least one night a week.

“When the wind gets up in Port Fairy, especially with the south-westerlies, the blades on that turbine are probably equivalent to a single-engine Cessna aircraft at take-off,” he said.

“I don’t have a problem with the wind turbine, I have a problem with where it was situated.

“There’s plenty of room at the back of the school to situate that turbine – anywhere else rather than 30 metres (away from) and looming over the local houses.”

The turbine was installed at the school in late 2007 as part of a federal government program aiming to promote greenhouse gas reduction in local communities.

Mr Cross said he wanted it turned off or moved to a site further from homes.

“If they won’t move it, then they need to shut it down totally,” he said.

Port Fairy Consolidated School principal Lindy Sharp said most local residents had welcomed the school’s environmental initiatives, which include a solar system.

“Mr Cross did raise the concern with us earlier on this year and we made contact with residents around the area, and they were really very pleased with our pleased with our position on sustainability,” she said.

“They didn’t have a problem with the wind turbine.

“Of course we do turn it off when it’s really windy, which we are supposed to do anyway.”

Mr Cross said his bedroom was about 40 metres from the blades, adding that a neighbour had also complained of disrupted sleep.

“When the turbine is on during the day and we’re sitting out on the patio, we’re in direct line of it and we have to raise our voices to be heard,” he said.

“Somebody did the wrong thing and placed it in the wrong place.”

Ms Sharp said the turbine and solar system had created more than $11,000 worth of energy since they were installed.

“(Power) goes into the system, and if we make excess power then it goes into the grid,” she said.

“We’re part of a small community and we want to do the best for everybody.”

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