December 30, 2010

Wind farm apathy turns to anger

Anelia Blackie, The Border Watch, 29 December 2010

Apathy has turned to anger in Allendale East with residents forming a group to fight the development of a multi-million dollar wind farm on their doorstep.

Acciona Energy announced the $175m development of 47 wind turbines following community consultation and approval by the Grant District Council in 2009, but almost two years on, the Concerned Residents Group claims the consultation process was inadequate and has demanded the process be re-opened.

“We were not informed about how these turbines can negatively impact on our lives,” a spokesperson for the group, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

“As we have now informed ourselves and with new knowledge and awareness, our apathy has turned to anger.”

Members of the group told The Border Watch they felt misled by one-sided information and “biased and poorly-worded information pamphlets extolling the benefits of the industrial plant”.

“They used propaganda to make us believe the project would be to our benefit, they came here and bribed the community with cash pay-outs for community projects, but they never told us about the many people in other parts of the country who have signed affidavits about how wind farms affected their health,” the resident said.

“We want a consultation process where we can ask questions about these health concerns and we want to know why wind farm developers let people sign confidentiality agreements to shut them up.”

The wind towers will be up to 100 metres high and the blades 41 metres long.

While two turbines will be located within 750 metres of two houses, 15 houses will be within 1km of turbines and 68 houses will be within 2km of turbines.

The Concerned Residents Group has obtained a number of affidavits signed by people who live within 3km of turbines who claim that the constant noise of turbines has caused chronic sleep deprivation, bed wetting and a ringing sensation in their ears.

Although Acciona Energy insists that wind farms are a safe source of renewable energy for Australia, within existing planning guidelines, the group said they wanted the opportunity to have questions answered.

The group has written letters to council, Acciona Energy and Independent Senator Nick Xenaphon requesting re-opening of community consultation, but council’s chief executive officer Russell Peate told The Border Watch the group had little chance of the process being repeated.

“Acciona Energy has spent a lot of money and time on research and consultation and council advertised for public submissions to be made,” Mr Peate said.

“The closing date for submissions is long gone.”

URL to article: