Emotions were high at Cooranga North on Saturday as concerned residents demanded answers at the AGL Coopers Gap Wind Farm Community Information Day at the weekend.
About 80 community members gathered with reference material, placards and a united voice.
AGL invited the community inside the hall to discuss their concerns one-on-one however this clinical approach annoyed some residents.
“We wanted a public forum so all the issues could be dealt with, in one forum,” spokesman Bryan Lyons said.
“The community don’t want to stop the project but eliminate any possible harm to the community. We’ve studied previous wind farms, including one owned by AGL in SA, and are using those findings to gauge what we need to get those impacts to an acceptable level.”
Concerns included noise, property values, the impact on wildlife, cattle and health.
AGL manager power development Adam Mackett said the weekend’s meeting was designed to provide residents with immediate answers.
“It allows people to have their say and not be intimidated by a large group,” he said. “Our aim is to get people familiar with what’s going on.
He said neighbours could expect sounds of 40DBA outside from the turbines and those on the properties 45DBA. This is equivalent to a quiet library or rest area but some residents who live close to wind farms have experienced health problems and an increase in stock stillbirth.
Following a heated discussion from residents, AGL agreed to a 45-minute town hall style meeting.
In its current newsletter AGL reported: “The Victorian Department of Health had examined the available scientific literature on wind farms and had concluded there are no direct health effects that can be attributed to modern wind turbines. This view has been supported by Australia’s peak health body – the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHRMC) who have released a public statement confirming that there is no published scientific evidence to support adverse health effects of wind turbines on health.”
NHRMC has since said AGL has taken this statement out of context.
NHMRC emerging issues assistant director Heather Bishop said there was “not enough robust scientific evidence available” to give wind farms a clean bill of health.
“A precautionary approach should be taken and research outcomes should continue to be monitored,” Ms Bishop said.
“By omitting the recommendations contained in the public statement (AGL has) Mr Lyons said the turbines should be located at least 640m away from a landholder’s boundary.
The Coopers Gap wind farm project has a proposed capacity of about 350MW with about 115 wind turbines to be located on less than two per cent of the site area of about 13,200 hectares of freehold agricultural land.
The site will be located on 11 properties near Cooranga North – between Dalby and Kingaroy – on land which is predominately used for cattle grazing and other farming activities.
Eleven landholders have agreed to host the 160m turbines on their land, earning up to $12,000 per turbine each year.
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