Wind farm fight at Collector
Credit: By Sarina Locke, ABC Rural, www.abc.net.au 3 February 2011 ~~
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A windfarm planned for Collector, south of Goulburn has upset locals.
Transfield Services has submitted a development application for 80 turbines generating power to 80,000 homes.
It would cost around $400 million.
Locals are planning to fight the plan.
“It might be clean energy but it’s a dirty business,” Rod Pahl.
Rod Pahl grows prime lambs at Collector just 40 minutes north of Canberra.
He and his neighbour, former corporate receiver of Ferrier Hodgson fame, Tony Hodgson have joined forces to oppose the wind farm.
He believes Transfield has been conducting secret deals with an absentee landholder to lease land for most of the 80 turbines.
“There’s really only two groups who make money out of these wind farms; one is a small group of landholders, one might get a million dollars a year.”
But in a written statement Transfield Services says no leases have been arranged, but are not likely to be close to a million dollars a year.
“Nothing like that amount. Retainer payments to allow for access to the land for wind monitoring and environmental studies are in the order of a few thousand dollars. The lease payments for hosting the turbines will be negotiated with landowners in due course.”
Local Rod Pahl doesn’t think Transfield is as transparent as they say.
“Transfield says they’re very rigorous in their process.
“But in fact they’ve really only had very little true community consultation.
“They had one day and the map that they released of the turbines included turbines on the property of a man who’s fundamentally opposed to wind farms, they’ve hadn’t bothered to tell him.”
Transfield Services’ Nick Valentine’s reply:
“An error was made in displaying the photo and has now been corrected,”
He says they have a newsletter and have been talking with individual community members, and “have established a very constructive dialogue with the Collector Community Association.”
The community is most concerned about noise, and Rod Pahl says they can’t take the issue through Council, because of new NSW legislation ruling wind farms critical infrastructure.
Transfield Services replies only five homes would be within 2km of the turbine.
“A noise assessment is currently being undertaken by external consultants to predict noise levels at nearby residendences from the construction and operation phases of the wind farm. … in accordance with the Wind Farms – Environmental Noise Guidelines.”
One thing made the locals sceptical, that Transfield made a $39,000 political donation, that it didn’t initially declare in its development application. Transfield has since added it to their submission, and says it “has been transparent in such disclosures to the Electoral Funding Authority.”
But the fight is very similar to many already held around the country.
Some communities have lost – like the Capital windfarm at Bungendore, the Crookwell windfarms one and 2, the Cullerin Range, and Tarago.
But a Queanbeyan windfarm was ditched 2 years ago, as community opposition – Landscape Guardians successfully lobbied on the grounds of noise, bird kill, and the look of the thing.
Locals at Collector are now campaigning to have a solar farm as an alternative.
The problem is Transfield points out a solar farm generating equivalent energy would cover 260 hectares of land in mirrors and cost $2 billion, 4 times the wind farm price.
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