The debate on the pros and cons of wind farms has continued unabated, with speakers at a largely attended meeting at Boorowa strongly anti, and a survey of attitudes held by residents and businesses near the Capital Wind Farm showing approval.
The Boorowa meeting related to the proposed wind farm at Rye Park, which will straddle the boundaries of Upper Lachlan, Boorowa and Yass Shires.
Capital Wind Farm dominates the skyline around the communities of Bungendore and Tarago.
Boorowa Meeting – Rye Park Windfarm
The Boorowa meeting, called by the Boorowa Landscape Guardians, was the fourth on the proposed Rye Park wind farm, and attracted an attendance of 60, including many who travelled long distances.
Invitations were sent to four energy companies, Suzlon, Repower, Wind Prospect and Epuron, but no representatives attended.
Landscape Guardian representative Sam McGuiness was chairman, and introduced the special speakers.
Senator John Maddigan spoke on the experiences of people living as close as 600 metres from wind turbines at Dalesford, in Victoria.
He commented: “I don’t like to see our countryside tainted by large companies and I would like to think there can be simple solutions found to help those people who are suffering,” he said.
Senator Maddigan referred to wind farm developments at Clare and Burra, in South Australia.
There, TRUenergy plans to add six new turbines to its wind arm near Clare in a $40 million expansion to 111 megawatts, enough to power over 7,500 homes each year. Construction is expected to be completed by 2013-14.
Senator Maddigan posed the question: “Will this be a trend for other wind farms once they have built locally?”
Steve Cooper, an Acoustic Engineer qualified in Industry, Environmental and Community Noise, spoke on the effects of “infrasound,” a sound so low it can’t be heard.
He said infrasound was lower infrequency than the normal limit of human hearing.
“The ear is the primary organ for sensing infrasound, but at higher levels it is possible to feel infrasound vibrations in various parts of the body,” Mr. Cooper said.
He is currently measuring infrasound near the Woodlawn and Cullerin wind farms. Cullerin is in Upper Lachlan Shire.
Mr. Cooper added it was believed infrasound frequencies could be louder inside houses than outside, and could cause sleep disturbances.
Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, however, state that with a well maintained wind farm there is no infrasound.
South Australian barrister Mr. Peter Quinn spoke on people becoming “receptor locations” and suffering adversely from effects of wind farms, and the way in which these developments are dividing communities.
He is heading up a law suit in South Australia against the proposed Hallet 3 wind farm, the first time in that State that a case has been taken to the Environment, Resources and Development Court.
Hallet residents are protesting that the new stage is too close to the township, with noise problems from Hallet Stages 1 and 2 the main basis for their complaint.
They are also upset that AGL plans to put more than 30 turbines on top of a rugged ridge near the town.
The community however is divided, with some arguing it will secure their futures, others that it will destroy their serenity and the unique landscape.
And this is the problem that faces residents affected by the Rye Park wind farm.
Mr. Quinn said noise was the “hot topic” at many wind farm meetings.
“Authorities have failed in South Australia and will fail in NSW with the guidelines set down. A man has a right to a good night’s sleep in his own bed – this will not be and has not been the case for many wind farm infrasound sufferers all over Australia.”
(Par in Italics)
Humphrey Price-Jones, President of the NSW Landscape Guardians, states: “The adverse health effects of infrasound generated by wind turbines is well documented.
“There is peer reviewed documented evidence supporting this and in some cases these living at significantly greater distances than 2 kilometers from turbines may also suffer.
“To their discredit, this is known by officers of the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure, wind turbine developers and both state and federal politicians who as yet have not taken appropriate action.
“”Some local residents living near those wind turbines already operating in our shire (Crookwell I and Cullerin Windfarms) are already suffering ill health effects.
In South Australia and Victoria a large number of residents who lived near wind turbines have abandoned their homes due to constant disturbed sleep and health problems.
If wind turbine developments proposed for the Upper Lachlan Shire are allowed to be constructed, then OUR residents will suffer the same fate as those in South Australia and Victoria,” Price-Jones concluded.
Capital Wind Farm survey
Infigen Energy has released the findings of a survey conducted around its major wind farm near Bungendore and Tarago.
The survey was carried out by a Melbourne company, Qdos, on “community perceptions of wind farms.”
It was carried out by phone, with completed surveys on 234 calls out of 712 made.
Of these, 200 were residents and 34 were from businesses.
On the question: “Do you think wind farm generation benefits the environment,” 75% answered yes, 10% no, 12% had no view and 3% didn’t know.
As to its effect on Bungendore, business operators were 64% positive, while overall 52% were positive.
The survey also sought local real estate agents’ perceptions on the effect on property values – in their opinion, overall property sales and values in the area have not been affected.
One said: “We sold one in between two wind mills and it didn’t impact the sale at all. That was about 18 months ago.”
Another commented: “We are still selling properties with views of the wind farm; there’s no effect on prices.”
Of the 234 respondents, including 89 business operators, 28 per cent have lived in the area for 20 years or more, while 39 per cent have lived there for 6 to 19 years.
And 33 per cent have moved into the area in the last five years – “debunking the myth that wind farms make people leave their homes,” Infigen Energy managing director Miles George commented.
“A third of the respondents moved to the area since the wind farms began construction and we know of four new houses located between 800 and 2,800 metres from the wind farm that were built after commissioning,” said Mr. George.
“The strong continued support for new projects in the communities near Infigen’s wind farms indicates that vast majority of people live harmoniously with them,” he added.
“Infigen Energy began work in the area in 2004 and more than $10 million has been invested directly in the area since the construction.
“On an ongoing basis approximately $2 million goes into the local community each year through sourcing supplies from local businesses, payments to land owners and local employee wages.”
Infigen has interests in 24 wind farms across Australia and the United States, which provide renewable energy to power half a million households per year.