Harry Robinson keeps a firm rein on his stallion Trump. The Australian stock horse is in high spirits in the Illalong hills west of Yass where Banjo Paterson grew up.
But he’s kept well in check by Mr Robinson, a horse breaker and farrier who breeds stock horses with wife and veterinarian Mary Ann. Their neighbour, cattle farmer Kylie Kimpton, reckons they’re in the prettiest corner of the whole country.
It is not only what they know about wind farms that has this trio on edge, but what they don’t know; with the developer Epuron seeking approval for 152 turbines, including many that will ring the volcano-shaped ridges of their farms.
They believe companies chasing subsidies from the federal government’s 2020 renewable energy target will lose interest when incentives dry up, leaving behind infrastructure that will diminish their properties’ value.
”What if one of us gets sick and we have to sell?” Mrs Kimpton said. Dr Robinson said they expected to lose up to 40 per cent of the value of their farm. ”More to the point, you cannot sell them. I think that is the biggest problem,” she said.
”We will have in our line of sight close to 40 wind turbines, about 12 within complete sight, which is enormous visual impact.”
After proposing the $670 million project, developer Epuron sold to Origin Energy, and later bought it back again.
Epuron construction manager Andrew Wilson does not know who will operate the wind farm, and suggested several energy retailers. On land values, he said Epuron was guided by a Valuer General of NSW report which studied impacts of two wind farms in NSW and six in Victoria and found they did not appear to negatively affect property.
While the state government assesses the project, the Robinsons are organising neighbours, raising concerns over vulnerable bent-wing bats, wedge-tailed eagles and superb parrots and delving into wind energy’s track record overseas.