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Buninyong hosts wind farm forum

It was an outpouring of grief, anger and determination.

Over more than two hours, almost 30 people from across the state told a standing-room crowd in Buninyong how big business and big government were making their lives hell.

In the second of a series of Australia-wide wind farm forums organised by Ballarat-based Senator John Madigan, about 200 people vowed to keep fighting for recognition and justice in the face of the Gillard Government’s renewable energy imperative.

“We’ve got no choice but to stay in our home,” said one woman from Cape Bridgewater, where a 29-turbine wind farm began operating in 2008.

“We’re begging you for your help,” she asked Senator Madigan.

The woman said 75 per cent of residents in her area had either left permanently or on a regular basis to escape symptoms caused by living near turbines.

A resident from Leonards Hill said she had been fighting Hepburn Wind for almost eight years and vowed she would not rest until the two turbines which disrupted local residents’ sleep were switched off.

Writer Berni Janssen from Waubra said the wind industry had admitted turbine noise caused sleep disturbances.

“The European Commission on Human Rights says sleep is a fundamental human right,” she said.

“We have to get the government off its bottom and do something.”

Moorabool mayor Pat Griffin said the wind industry was in denial over the health impacts of living near turbines.

“The evidence is so compelling and so strong you cannot reject it,” he said.

“We are not anti wind farm but anti the effects of wind farms.”

Cr Griffin called on the audience to not lose faith in local government.

“The wind farm lobby is incredibly strong, its PR machine is relentless, its key academics put you down and they convince politicians to make stupid statements.”

He urged the audience to keep on fighting.

But not everyone saw the wind energy sector as the enemy.

Former Ballarat Greens candidate Linda Zibell urged the audience to vent their anger at the coal industry.

And Friends of the Earth’s Ben Courtis said 20 per cent of energy in South Australia came from wind farms, resulting in lower carbon emissions and lower power costs.

Senator Madigan said he would present all submissions to the Senate and called for “a community before commerce” approach from the government. He said the next forum would be in Yass on February 13.