The wind industry had a day of reckoning yesterday when the Senate inquiry into wind farms held its Ballarat hearing.
Giving evidence, fuelled at times by anger, frustration and tears, nearly 30 local residents spoke of ill-health, property devaluation, environmental damage and communities split by wind farm developments.
Megan Read of the Western Plains Landscape Guardians Association called for an immediate moratorium on all proposed and approved wind farms until an independent health study was undertaken.
Ms Read was also one of many who said a national approach to planning and policy guidelines should be implemented to make all states consistent with federal regulations.
“The rapid onslaught of wind farm proposals and developments has affected thousands of regional Australians and many groups,” Ms Read told the hearing.
“Local short-term economic benefits are massively overwhelmed by loss of property values, population decline, job losses and restriction of agricultural business operations.
“Wind farms are not viable without government mandated and public funded subsidies.”
Ms Read called the spread of wind farms a “complete social injustice”.
“Social impacts included negative health effects from turbine noise and infrasound, breakdown in community connectedness, and the overall feeling of helplessness,” she said.
The hearing began with formal testimony from former Waubra residents Carl and Sam Stepnell and Noel Dean. They spoke of the onset of severe health problems after turbines were turned on.
Waubra operator Acciona also came in for criticism from Pyrenees Shire Council for a range of operational matters.
Council officer Chris Hall said changes were made to turbine design and height, and lights were added to turbines after planning approval and under secondary consent from then Planning Minister Justin Madden.
Mr Hall said council had received around 32 formal complaints of noise and health related effects from Waubra residents.
It is believed senators toured both Waubra and Hepburn wind farms earlier in the day, but these visits were closed to media.
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