June 7, 2012

Wind farm has locals in a whirl

Lauren Pilat, Mandurah Mail | www.mandurahmail.com.au 7 June 2012

Local residents are forming a community action group in opposition of Cape Bouvard Energy’s (CBE) proposed wind farm at Lake Clifton.

The proposal to have wind turbines operating on a 980 hectare block between two protected vegetated areas has angered residents for months.

It’s still in the early planning stages and is still in the public consultation stage, with CBE planning to submit its council application in mid July.

Herron residents Jim Anderson and Kevin McCartney with the community action group are determined to raise their concerns and follow the proposal’s progress all the way.

Residents share the concerns that the turbines would have a detrimental impact on the area and their health.

According to Mr McCartney residents’ concerns are loss of aesthetic and amenable local values, health affects, impact on the local bird populations, possible damage to the thrombolites, possible damage to the ground water table and loss of land value and future equity.

Mr Anderson, who will have a clear view of the turbines from his five-acre property said there’s a lot of unknowns when it comes to the affects of wind farms.

He said health affects are unknown so there is no certainty they won’t have an impact on locals.

Mr Anderson is also concerned for the local eagle, heron and bat population.

He said there have been cases where birdlife have been killed after flying into the propellers.

“There are also concerns for the heron population which migrates to the area from around the world each year,” Mr Anderson said.

However, according to CBE general manager Stephen Watson the wildlife would be unaffected.

Mr Watson said CBE engaged environmental consultants to assess whether the birds and bats would be affected, results showed the turbines would have no impact.

“The hub height of the turbines to the centre of the propeller is 93m tall so they operate at a much higher height than what most birds fly,” he said.

But Mr Anderson and Mr McCartney aren’t convinced and said there are too many unknowns, with insufficient information provided.

Mr McCartney said CBE hasn’t supplied the residents with much information, only “very basic information about benefits and [the] project”.

CBE “cannot provide information on the type of turbine to be used [and] will only provide after [council] submission to develop has been submitted”.

He said residents haven’t been provided with information on engineering specifications, foundations, exact location of each support tower or extent of noise modelling, hydrology modelling, and aesthetic modelling.

The information CBE has provided includes the reasons why they chose the area, who will benefit and turbine measurements.

Mr Watson said the area is a “very good wind source”, providing 8.5km/sec wind speeds.

“Turbines tend to work best in coastal areas,” he said.

“The benefits won’t only be to locals but to the state and the world.”

Mr Watson said the original proposal included 36 turbines which would have powered 55,000 but now that number has been decreased to 30 turbines which would power 46,000 homes extending from Mandurah to Bunbury.

He said the main aim of CBE is to provide renewable energy and reduce CO2 emissions.

But Mr McCartney said according to CBE there will be two systems run for the resulting wind energy it wants to achieve.

“This creates problems for the base load suppliers as they must constantly juggle the switching aspect of the system, because the wind power is intermittent,” Mr McCartney said.

“Studies in Holland have suggested that due to the extra generating capacity required for base load power, when wind farms are not producing, more CO2 is being produced to accommodate wind energy, not less.

“The wind energy is definitely not as clean and green as the mantra of the Government and wind farm industry state.

“It is expensive, unsightly, noisy, and has an extremely large impact on the existing residents.”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/06/07/wind-farm-has-locals-in-a-whirl/