The proposal approval for the Flat Rocks wind farm in the Kojonup shire is still causing strong community debate.
Last week a rally was held in Canberra for those who had experienced alleged harm caused by what some industry commentators coined ‘under-regulated’ wind farms.
About 200 people attended the peaceful protest.
Three of those people were Kojonup farmers Alan and Narelle Goodall and Perth-based Kojonup property owner Digby Atkins.
Ms Goodall said the rally was also held to bring the true cost of wind turbines to the general public’s attention.
“It’s not just growers living next to these farms who are going to be impacted by their operations,” she said.
“Every person in this country who pays an electricity bill will be hit in the hip pocket if the government continues to allow these wind farms to be built.”
Ms Goodall said the biggest issue, apart from health issues allegedly caused by turbine operations, was that Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) continued to be paid to wind farmers throughout the country.
“We believe some wind farms aren’t compliant with their impact guidelines and those wind farmers have been collecting RECs for up to four years now,” she said.
“We think that’s fraudulent behaviour and a very careless way to be spending public funds.
“Because of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) for 2020, the government is pushing for renewable energy to take the place of fossil fuels which in theory is great for the environment.
“But when it comes to certain types of renewable energy, we are all paying for the wind farmers’ REC subsidies through the increase of our power bills.”
Ms Goodall said each turbine earned $280,000-$350,000 each year through these subsidies – paid directly to the owner.
She said if the RET scheme wasn’t overhauled that amount was set to rise as high as $900,000 by 2031.
“If the fact consumers are forced to pay for this intermittent and unreliable power generation isn’t bad enough, the fact the turbines are continually backed up by fossil fuel generators makes one wonder if they are actually reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and so far the wind industry hasn’t been able to provide any evidence that they do,” Ms Goodall said.
It seems that human health issues surrounding wind turbines continue to have a seriously negative impact on wind companies as well.
“If wind companies truly believed no health issues were caused by turbines they should be demanding independent and full spectrum research to clear the issue up once and for all.
“But instead they continue to hinder any noise assessments and refuse to release their actual noise assessments.
“That leads me to believe they are intentionally covering up the truth.”
Just a few hours after the rally another wind power protest was held in Canberra’s city centre to make a case for the introduction of more wind farm technology throughout Australia and call on the Coalition to end the uncertainty about the RET.
It was staged by advocacy groups GetUp and Yes2Renewables.
“Politicians who buy into the misinformation spruiked by anti-wind farm campaigners are putting jobs, investment and all the other benefits of wind energy at risk,” said Friends of the Earth spokesman Leigh Ewbank.
“If the Liberal Party intends to continue to support the RET and development of wind energy after the September election, then the leadership of the party must come out and distance themselves from those MPs who are joining the wind farm fraud rally.”
“Throughout the Australian community there is widespread support for renewable energy as a means of tackling climate change,” GetUp national director Sam McLean said.
“Since the carbon price has been introduced there has been a 7.4 per cent reduction in carbon emissions and renewable energy production is up 28pc.”
The Mayor of Ararat, Victoria, Gwenda Allgood questioned who was behind those opposed to wind farms.
“Nobody knows who is funding these anti-wind farm scaremongers but we do know they have been proven wrong time and time again,” she said.
Negotiations about the Broomehill-Tambellup shire section of the proposed Flat Rocks wind farm are still taking place in front of the State Administrative Tribunal.
Ms Goodall said the tribunal held a mediation hearing last week but the outcome of that was still unknown.
She also said the anti-wind farm rally had nothing to do with scaremongering. It was an important forum for the public to learn about the true costings involved in wind farms.
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