Media savvy and backed by powerful corporations with pockets full of cash to spend on lobbyists – both sides of the wind farm debate will throw similar claims at each other at two rallies today.
In Melbourne, the company behind the massive Macarthur wind farm, Vestas International, will launch an international campaign targeting the claims of anti-wind groups, many of which come from the south-west.
At the same time, a slick anonymous website called Stop These Things will hold a rally in Canberra against “wind farm fraud” and “greentards”.
Vestas, a Danish turbine maker, will unveil its campaign to rouse “the silent majority” of people they say support wind energy.
They are also hoping to slow the traction of anti-wind groups who have recently gathered a foothold in the federal Coalition, best demonstrated by a handful of senators due to speak at the Canberra rally this morning.
Vestas public affairs director Ken McAlpine said Australia had been chosen for the campaign launch because it was home to some of the world’s most vehement anti-wind groups.
“It’s an issue for our business and our customers,” Mr McAlpine said.
“And we’re taking steps to address that.”
From today a website called Act on Facts would go live in an attempt to mobilise support for wind farms in regional communities.
“What we’re trying to do is to demonstrate to policy makers that we have support,” he said.
The gathering in Melbourne will also focus on Victorian issues, such as strict regulations on where turbines can be built.
Grazier David Fletcher was among a group of Dundonnell farmers who initially sought out interest for a wind farm in his area, but has since found himself locked out of benefiting from the 90-turbine proposal because his home is within the two-kilometre boundary limit.
“The state government introduced the two-kilometre radius so no towers could be built around our place,” Mr Fletcher said.
Plans for the wind farm have stalled as the company assesses whether it poses a threat to an endangered species of bat. Opponents say it will also harm a unique and isolated population of brolga.
But Mr Fletcher said farmers had a vested interest in protecting the environment.
“We’ve got a responsibility for the environment. If we muck it up we’re the first to know,” he said.
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