The wind farm wagon rolled into town last week but many locals remain unconvinced. Experts came from government, law firms, wind construction firms and Country Energy to speak to community members at the Yass Soldiers Club about the opportunities for farmers to create an income stream through wind energy but were met with lots of questions and passionate opposition.
Paul Regan and Kim Turner are two local farmers who attended the forum but were not convinced. “They’re here to push a line. It’s not a forum, it’s disseminating one point of view,” Mr Turner said.
Mr Regan from Binalong thought there was a lack of farmers and landholders in attendance.
“Considering it’s a government- run forum, they didn’t do enough to publicise it. A lot of people I spoke to didn’t even know it was on.” He said that the forum was interesting but lacked a balanced point of view. “It would have been good to have the NSW Farmers there.”
Mr Regan said the biggest impression on him from the day was the passion from some of those present. “People that had been [negatively] impacted by wind farms, it really showed in their emotion,” he said.
“It makes me think ‘Is it all worth it?’” Not all those who attended were from the Yass Valley. Members from Friends of Crookwell, led by the high-profile antiwind farm campaigner, artist and conservationist Humphrey Price-Jones, came to ask some heated questions. Mr Turner felt it was good to have them there.
“They are very wellinformed; you’ve got to give them credit for that.” Mr Price-Jones said they were attending the meeting because Yass is within the same Renewable Energy Precinct as Crookwell. He felt Yass Valley residents needed to be aware of the issues.
“It’s generating a lot of heat and will go on doing so. What we really need is a close examination of the Department of Planning,” he said. Organiser of the day and Renewable Energy Precinct coordinator, Andy Hughes, remains positive. “
Our research shows that 89 per cent of people in NSW support wind farms,” he said. “I’m really pleased that everybody got to interact. There were some very passionate people, but I’m very happy with the outcome. The aim was fulfilled. “We provided access to experts. The questions and answers were fantastic.”
He said that he felt that farmers were “appreciative that they got to hear the issues first hand”. Yass farmer Gordon Allan was more inclined to be positive. “We’re pioneering a new technology and we’ve got to go with it,” he said. Mr Allan felt that benefits from wind farms need to be shared among the whole community. “If someone builds a wind farm in an area, then I think everyone should get some benefit from it,” he said.
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