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Farm dreams blown away  

Credit:  Miranda Devine, The Sunday Telegraph, www.dailytelegraph.com.au 20 March 2011 ~~

If you thought pink batts were a poorly implemented, badly designed, money-wasting, deadly green disaster, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Try wind turbines.

The Gillard Government’s rush to make green energy provide 20 per cent of the nation’s power by 2020 is despoiling and dividing once peaceful rural communities, slashing the value of properties, driving people mad with their infrasound throbbing, while driving up electricity prices, and doing absolutely nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

And all of it is subsidised by you, the hapless taxpayer.

Wind turbines 150m high are springing up all over Victoria and NSW on prime agricultural land, with minimal consultation with farming communities, and reported detrimental health effects.

In bushfire-prone country, not only do they pose a fire hazard if they spontaneously combust (as one did six months ago in South Australia), but aerial fire suppression is impossible near the turbines.

From Collector, Boorowa, Rugby and Nimmitabel in southern NSW, to Ballarat in Victoria, people have found themselves encircled by wind turbines, which give them headaches, stop them sleeping, emit a hum like a “huge jet engine rumbling”, and create a sun-flicker strobe effect as the blades turn.

Unsurprisingly, more than 1000 submissions have flooded into a Senate inquiry into wind farms.

Already, in Victoria, Premier Ted Baillieu is heeding community anger about the turbines, and last week released a wind farm policy requiring new turbines be at least 2km from any dwelling.

But in NSW the situation is far worse, thanks to planning law 3A that allows renewable energy projects to bypass local council planning controls so that the minister is the consent authority.

Lip service is paid to the process of community consultation, notification and objections. That is why farmer Sam McGuiness of “Willowmere”, east of Boorowa, only knew about the 90 turbines destined for his district when a pilot asked why there was a glistening 85m-high wind mast on his boundary.

The Indian wind power company Suzlon, which had signed up his neighbour, had planted the wind-testing device.

McGuiness faces the prospect of turbines encircling his farm, slashing its value by as much as 30 per cent and driving him off the land that has been in his family for three generations.

“It’s just so hard to walk away from,” he said last week. “A lot of dreams would be gone.”

His elderly father, Joe, is distraught.

“It’s his entire life’s work the whole lot sitting there.”

He grows fat lambs for Woolworths on the lush green rolling hills, and with lamb prices the best they have ever been he had hoped one day to pass the farm on to his three sons.

“We bought and paid for all this land and put in tens of thousands of hours of hard work for the future,” he says.

His neighbour, Charlie Arnott, 38, described as the “biggest greenie in the valley” who has planted 26,000 trees on his property for carbon sequestration and grows biodynamic beef, found out two weeks ago he will have 12 turbines looming over his house, between 1.3km and 2.5km away.

He is particularly concerned for the health of his 8-month-old daughter Lilla.

The company concerned told him the turbines are allowed to be five decibels louder than background noise you get in a quiet countryside setting.

But Arnott says: “I live here BECAUSE of the background noise. I can hear the birds and the crickets and the frogs. We created a sanctuary here, that we can escape to and sit and just be. This is a real threat to that.”

The two men are not even against wind farms, in the right place, like a national park.

“It’s not a bad idea but it’s been so woefully implemented,” says McGuiness.

“If you’re a superb parrot you have 10 times more rights than a human.”

The funny thing is, they say: “It’s not even that windy here. They’re not here to make electricity. They’re here to feel good for Kyoto.”

The turbines will be as high as a 50-storey building, at 150m, almost as high as Australia Square’s tower.

That’s the truth.

Wind farms are regarded as the most expensive, inefficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Wind will never replace fossil fuels because it is not reliable enough to supply base-load electricity, so another form of power always has to be at the ready. On hot, still days when people want air conditioning the turbines don’t move.

Then there is the danger to pilots. Phil Hurst, CEO of the Aerial Agricultural Association, will tell a public hearing at the Senate inquiry on Friday that the most immediate dangers for pilots are the invisible wind monitoring masts. They are 85m high with guy wires out to 45m.

Astonishingly, he says there is no legal requirement that the masts be marked to make them visible or that pilots be notified of their existence.

“The difficulty is they’re put up at such short notice that the paddock we treated yesterday might have been safe but today it’s not,” Hurst says.

The planes fly at heights from 3m to 30m to fertilise paddocks or spray noxious weeds.

“There’s no duty of care from the wind farm development. It’s a commercial enterprise passed off as feel-good for the environment.”

Such are the unforeseen consequences of slap-dash good intentions, which just goes to show the road to hell is paved with green policies.

Source:  Miranda Devine, The Sunday Telegraph, www.dailytelegraph.com.au 20 March 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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