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Windfarm developer disputes health issues claim

Infigen Energy development manager Frank Boland does not believe windfarms cause health problems and questions the symptoms claimed by Millicent beef producer David Mortimer.

Mr Boland hopes to eventually see the construction of 153 turbines stretching from Lake Bonney to Cape Jaffa, many within one and two kilometres of people’s homes.

The first project stage was considered by the Wattle Range Council Development Assessment Panel (DAP) this week and Mr Boland was able to respond to submissions opposing the project.

“There are various accusations about health impacts (from windfarms) out there,” said Mr Boland in reference to a DVD played at the meeting, highlighting the concerns of general practitioners, scientists and farmers.

“But as (CEO) Frank Brennan said to the Senate inquiry, the Wattle Range Council has never had one complaint from the Lake Bonney Windfarm on health and that project is one of the oldest in Australia,” Mr Boland said.

“Precautionary measures when designing a windfarm is to limit any impact or minimise any impact on all the issues pertaining to health, even though I don’t believe – and the company doesn’t believe – that windfarms cause any health impacts.”

Later in the meeting, DAP member Robert Miles of Mount Gambier said he believed those who said they experienced health problems from noise, including Mr Mortimer.

Mr Boland suggested Mr Mortimer’s symptoms could be from “the stress of a new development pending, and the anxiety from that – I don’t know”.

Responding to claims of data from a broken monitor placed on a property without permission or consultation, Mr Boland apologised and said Infigen employed a consultant to measure noise, which included current background noise.

“One placed on the Hubbatz property did fall down and it was replaced,” he said.

“I can say we are compliant with some of the strictest noise standards in the world.”

Of the proposed 16 turbines surrounding Millicent’s John and Sue Clarke’s home – of which eight are earmarked within one kilometre of their home – Mr Boland said three had been removed from the project.

Millicent farmer John Mullins was concerned about report statistics which claim up to 800 ibis would be killed each year as a result of the development and had slammed Infigen for claiming his issues were resolved.

“John covered a lot of the topics today and although we may not have consulted with him initially, it did happen further down the track and we did a lot of modelling,” Mr Boland said.

“There will be very little habitat removal (animals killed) as a result of this project.”

During the meeting, several residents expressed concerns about Infigen using a narrow, potholed road of gravel over sand known as McArthur Road during the windfarm construction, and afterwards for maintenance.

But Mr Boland said that road had been selected by Wattle Range Council, and would need to be upgraded.

“We are not just a developer, we are the long term owner of Lake Bonney (windfarm),” Mr Boland said.

“We do try to put back into the community – the people who host these turbines do get some remuneration.”

He said Infigen also employed someone specifically for sponsorship and community interaction.

Mr Boland rejected claims that Mayrurra Station’s Wagyu cattle were sometimes “spooked” by the noise of the turbines when the wind blew from a certain direction.

The De Bruin family has consistently rejected permission for any turbines to be hosted on any Mayurra property.

“My experience … is on hot days you actually see the cattle lined in the shade of the tower and on cold days you see them huddled behind to shelter from the wind,” Mr Boland said.