Premier Denis Napthine has declared his personal love for wind turbines, but says his government’s restrictions to where they can be built won’t change.
Dr Napthine on Friday launched the Macarthur wind farm in Victoria’s south-west, the largest wind energy project in the southern hemisphere.
The Macarthur project was built by AGL Energy and New Zealand firm Meridian Energy, cost $1 billion, and sits in Dr Napthine’s electorate. It consists of 140 turbines generating up to 420 megawatts of electricity, enough for 252,000 average households.
Speaking at the launch Dr Napthine said he thought wind turbines were “majestic”.
“I remember year’s ago seeing wind turbines in Wales and parking on the side of the road and just watching them,” he said.
“I think they are absolutely fantastic, they’re not right in every place, but in places like this, the wide open plains, I think they are really valuable in term of the energy they produce.”
“I think they are majestic, and I actually love them.”
Laws brought in by the Coalition government allow any household to veto a wind farm project within two kilometres of their property. It also restricts construction around key towns and sites.
Green groups say Victoria is missing out on future reneable energy investment because of the laws. Environment Victoria’s Mark Wakeham said: “It’s encouraging that Premier Napthine is attending the opening of the massive Macarthur wind farm, but the reality is this wind farm wouldn’t have been approved under the Coalition’s anti-windfarm planning laws.”
Speaking to reporters, Dr Napthine said the government’s laws struck the right balance between protections for landholders and giving industry certainty.
“We believe that by proper negotiation, proper selection of site for wind farms, there is ample opportunity for further wind farm planning approvals and investment in this state,” Dr Napthine said.
AGL chief executive Michael Fraser said that under the Victorian wind laws, the Macarthur project – approved before the restrictions came into effect – would have likely still been built, but at a smaller size.
Friday’s launch was met by about 30 local and anti-wind protestors.
Annie Gardiner, whose sheep farm is next to the Macarthur wind farm, said she and her husband were having their health and the livelihood impacted.
She said she was suffering from from severe head pressure and sore ears and was having trouble sleeping, which she attributed to the audible and sub-audible sound from the farm.
“My husband and I, along with others, have to leave our properties for two days and two night of every week so we can get some sleep and we can remove our bodies from the cumilative impact of infrasound,” she said.
AGL says it has conducted significant noise testing of the wind farm which shows levels are below it’s planning permit requirements. The company says it is carrying out further testing on neighbouring properties which it will release later this month.
The health impacts of wind farms are heavily contested.
A review by the National Health and Medical Research Council found in 2009 that there was no published scientific link between wind farms and adverse health impacts. The council is now updating its review to be released later this year.
A report by Sydney University public health expert Professor Simon Chapman this year concluded heath impacts attributed to wind farms were more likely the result of alarm caused by activists circulating health warning.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding