May 30, 2012

Call to rein in wind farm construction

John Thistleton, The Canberra Times | 30 May 2012

Michelle Edwards no longer canters her race horses on her Cullerin Ranges grazing land east of Gunning.

Since Origin Energy’s wind farm began operating in 2009 near the Cullerin sheep and cattle farm she runs with husband Brett, Mrs Edwards says she has lost her balance while riding.

She says her vision is blurred, she is losing sleep and feels as if her stomach has battery acid in it.

She qualified to train thoroughbreds to prepare horses on the property. She said her illness may not be caused by the wind farm, but nothing had changed except the arrival of the turbines which coincided with her illness.

”I can’t have track work riders ride either because under occupational health and safety, I have to ensure that the environment that people are riding in, is safe.

”We just can’t get the planning officials to make a move on any substantial consideration.”

The Edwards are begging energy company RATCH-Australia to reconsider its development of another 80 turbines near the existing wind farm.

Planning guidelines on setbacks from homes are still being debated in NSW, while Queensland Health said yesterday it was not the first government health agency to recommend a two kilometre buffer for wind farms, contrary to a report in The Australian newspaper.

Queensland Health is awaiting the National Health and Medical Research Council’s latest findings on wind farms before adopting a policy.

In a statement RATCH-Australia said NHMRC was Australia’s peak public health body, and following a review of all available literature concluded ”there is currently no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects” and ”there is no reliable evidence that sounds below the hearing threshold produce physiological or psychological effects”.

”International research has consistently found no health issues caused by wind farms. The NSW Department of Health has previously stated that any widely circulated fears regarding health issues are not scientifically valid,” RATCH’s statement said.

Opponents of the latest proposal at Cullerin, Friends of Collector, say wind farm developments are surrounded in secrecy. Spokesman Rodd Pahl said an inquiry into the failure to protect the health of NSW citizens was inevitable.

Friends of Collector founder Tony Hodgson said wind farm proponents should not lodge environmental assessments until draft guidelines were put out, and sound acoustic testing was completed.

Mr Hodgson, who co-founded the insolvency firm Ferrier Hodgson, said a group of landholders across the southern and central tablelands had funded research on acoustic impacts of wind farms and had rejected the NSW government’s request to be a party to that research.

”I’m not going to do that, because that will taint it. I want my government to do its job, and its job is to look after and be concerned for its citizens.”

URL to article: