I have a few bones to pick with Matthew Nott (Visual impact of wind farms, Eden Magnet, December 1). Matthew thinks wind farms “look magnificent” and that coastal wind farms have a positive impact on tourism. Pull the other leg, Matthew (with apologies to his day job as an orthopaedic surgeon). Would Matthew, also as the Tathra Headland volunteer adorning the front page of our 2011/12 phonebook, be happy to transfer the ill-conceived Eden wind farm and plonk it down on his Tathra Headland? I think not. As for negative tourism impact, Sapphire Coast Tourism (SCT) has made formal objection to council. SCT’s well-respected chairman, Bruce Leaver states: “Any short term economic gain associated with the construction of the wind farm may be strongly eclipsed by the economic gain in preserving the tourism brand.” (i.e. Eden is the centrepoint of the Wilderness Coast tourism brand promoted internationally by Tourism Australia side-by-side with national landscapes icons like Flinders Ranges, Kakadu, Uluru and Kimberleys). Tim Shepherd, National Parks and Wildlife Services regional manager, is another well-informed ecotourism leader who sees the coastal wilderness concept finally gaining traction attracting discerning international visitors who respect the environment. Matthew seems to prefer to borrow lobby lines from the Australian Wind Energy Association (AusWEA), the industry lobby promoting taxpayer-subsidised wind turbines: “the impact of wind turbines and birds and bats is insignificant compared to the impact of domestic cats.” (AusWEA Fact sheet No.8).
“The average domestic cat kills more birds in its lifetime than a wind turbine.” (Matthew Nott).
The reality is that the Woolnorth wind farm in Tasmania has killed 17 wedgetailed eagles. When did you last see a moggy eating a wedgetail, or a sea eagle?
Matthew is equally adroit in misrepresenting energy supply. “Instead of purchasing our electricity from the Hunter Valley, we should be selling it to Australia,” he claims. While it’s correct we do purchase our electricity from the Hunter Valley, around 50 per cent of the electrons received down the wires in Eden are actually supplied by the renewables wholesaler, Snowy-Hydro. It’s complex, therefore easy to mislead. Matthew’s passion for renewables is praiseworthy, but wind farms must only be located where there is plenty of open land available and there is local community support – neither condition applies in Eden. Victoria has now legislated to ban wind farms in area of high scenic value like the Great Ocean Road. If the Victorian border were north of Eden (as many claim it was meant to be, or ought to be) this wind farm would be illegal in this high scenic area next door to Boyd’s Tower and on the border of Ben Boyd National Park. The visual environment is a crucial segment of environmental protection. Would Matthew have drowned the Franklin River just to increase the supply of renewable energy?
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