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Yass Valley wind farm community survey

In April 2013 Yass Landscape Guardians carried out a telephone survey of 183 residents and landowners within 8kms of the proposed Yass Valley Wind Farm.

A large majority (70%) of the 112 respondents do not support the development with only 16% supportive. These results are consistent with the results measured by a similar survey in the Collector area taken in 2012. Both these surveys contradict claims of strong community support made by the wind farm developers, and generally accepted by the NSW government office of Environment and Heritage and the NSW planning department.

The survey also highlighted the fact that the proponent, Epuron, has failed in its requirement to consult with the community, with only 20% of respondents having been contacted by Epuron and 32% receiving a newsletter. These results contradict claims made by Epuron.

Yass Landscape Guardians Chairman, Mark Glover, said “The survey clearly shows that the majority do not want these turbines in the community for a variety of reasons which we believe include matters such as property values, visual impact, the effect they have on fire fighting aircraft, the divisive effect on the community, and the possible adverse health effects.”

“With the culture of secrecy and half truths it just shows that Epuron is indeed just like Eddie Obeid!”

Local Vet, Dr Mary Ann Robinson said “This survey clearly demonstrates that Epuron failed in its duty to comply with Government regulations regarding the application process for this wind farm and made clearly false statements within it to the effect that the community gave its whole hearted permission for them to propose this project and we most definitely did not!.”

Local resident, engineer, and businessman David Strong said “Every turbine that goes up pushes up every electricity bill”

Yass Landscape Guardians are calling on the NSW government to reject this proposal, and to immediate legislate to stop all further wind farms in populated areas.

The Yass Valley Wind Farm proposal is for the construction of 148 turbines between Yass and Jugiong on Conroys Gap, Marilba and Coppabella Hills. Epuron originally lodged the proposal with the NSW Department of Planning in December 2008 and then sold the project to Origin Energy in December 2009. In July 2012 Epuron acquired the project back from Origin Energy and then fast tracked the proposal in order to lodge it under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Epuron admit that consultation was curtailed by this fast track requirement and accept that the process has not been helpful for the community, nevertheless they still appear intent on forcing this proposal through.

Epuron have never constructed a wind farm, preferring to sell projects once planning permission has been granted. Their last project, Gullen Range, was sold to Goldwind, a Beijing based turbine manufacturer struggling to offload turbines now that European and US demand has collapsed, raising transfer pricing issues.

Epuron responds

Epuron responds

Epuron told the Yass Tribune it has a number of concerns about the recent survey conducted by Yass Landscape Guardians.

Andrew Wilson, a construction manager with Epuron, said guardians was not an unbiased organisation.

“The survey was not conducted by an independent organisation or by someone with any expertise with these assessments.”

He also disputed that the survey was “authenticated” by Galaxy Research.

“Their letter (Galaxy’s) only comments on the standards applied and the response rate, without any reference to the information on which they base this comment, and makes no comment on the quality or veracity of the survey.

“Yass Valley Landscape Guardians are known to be opponents to wind farms and by carrying out the survey directly (as they state) may have directly or indirectly influenced the responses,” Mr Wilson said.

“Accordingly, we do not intend to respond to the survey results directly.”

The manager said that Epuron is mindful of the concerns but “the specific leanings of residents (whether they are for or against wind farms) cannot be used to inform good decisions about wind farm development either by Epuron or by the planning authorities”.

“Of far greater importance is the information residents have about the local community and specifically issues that may be raised with respect to a wind farm, to allow Epuron and the planning authorities to adjust its proposal to suit local conditions including local impacts.

“This is why Epuron’s consultation is so extensive, and focuses not on opinion but on understanding possible impacts, whether they are good or bad.

“Further details on the proposed wind farm, including the justification and the need for renewable energy projects like the Yass Valley Wind Farm and details of the planning approval process can be found on our website www.epuron.com.au/project/yass-valley/downloads.”