Since I was elected to Parliament, I cannot think of one legislative policy that has divided rural communities more than wind farm planning.
Generational friends who have lived together and have had children together in small rural communities are now not talking to each other because of the great divide.
It has pitted those who host turbines that receive thousands of dollars, community clubs who are given gifts by the wind generators and councils that receive substantial rates against those who are generally concerned by the health impacts, noise and wind shear interference and the visual immensity of these monstrosities.
The Baillieu Government recognised the great divide and imposed some proximity guidelines to protect those who live close to potential wind farm developments.
Personally, I think there is more to be done on this front.
I will advocate for independent monitoring of noise levels.
The developers’ compliance to noise standards means little – if nothing at all – if the testing regimen isn’t appropriate and independent.
All other industrial regulatory systems require the capacity for independent testing and I believe wind farm noise compliance standards should adhere to the same scrutiny.
Unfortunately, the new proximity guidelines don’t protect those who will live close to the 1000-odd turbines still to be built under the ad hoc planning permits of the previous Labor government.
The Greens’ rants of telling anyone who will listen that new planning wind farm guidelines are stifling investment is a nonsense because there are still many turbines and wind farm developments to be built that wouldn’t be affected by the new guidelines.
The wind farm generators know wind farming is not economically sustainable without heavy financial support and large increases in coal-fired energy pricing so they can sell into a cost-competitive market.
They also know the insidious carbon tax will have lots of freebies and subsidies for the wind energy sector and are biding their time until their Christmas presents arrive in the form of the new tax.
Meanwhile, wind farm generators will work in secrecy, negotiating landholder against landholder, ignoring the possible impacts of their 150m turbines and generating heads on those who have to live close to these swooping machines, all the while wrapping themselves in green tinsel with supposed job creation, even though the machines are built mainly in Korea and China and there’s no carbon tax in those countries.
Green energy is important to our future needs and I fully support the use of solar and other forms of cleaner energy, but let’s tell it how it is, not what makes us feel good.
Simon Ramsay is the Liberal member for Western Victoria