Feelings ran high as more than 200 people converged on the Wellington Soldiers Club to have their say on proposed wind turbines for the region.
At the Bodangora Wind Turbine Planning Assessment Commission meeting. 47 people presented their case to the objective board and majority of the speakers opposed the plans for various reasons.
One group seemingly overlooked by the proponent is the Wellington Jail.
Correctional officer Wayne Bollard spoke on behalf of the workers and inmates of the jail expressing his concern about the effects of the turbine, six kilometres away, on staff and prisoners and the lack of assessment taken out on the jail.
“In a way I am talking for the inmates who have no voice. We house all types of prisoners, male and female with ongoing health and other states. Some of these are extremely violent criminals,” Officer Bollard said.
“We are concerned about the effects of close proximity turbines. There has been no assessment from Infigen Energy.”
Officer Bollard also pointed out the damage the noise could do to people with mental illnesses or living in confined spaces.
“They could have a negative effect on people in small spaces and those with mental illnesses,” he said.
“No one can tell me there’s no effects on inmates because no assessment has been done.”
Another speaker, former shire president and former mayor, Campbell Gregory, voiced his concern about the town’s vitality, stating Wellington needed this project for the finance.
“Our long-term viability is vulnerable. They have promised us $85,000 per annum for the first 25 years,” Mr Gregory said. “That’s money into our area. We haven’t had an opportunity like this since the Wellington Jail.”
Other speakers discussed the benefits of renewable energy but the majority of speakers passionately expressed their concern about the effects of the turbines on their families.
Bodangora Wind Turbine Awareness Group spokesperson Lyn Jarvis was pleased with the turnout.
“It’s a great turnout. You can’t control who talks and there’s obviously a common link with health and noise,” she said. “We’re not anti-wind farm, we want the industrial development where it doesn’t impact on people’s lives.”
Mrs Jarvis told the Commission Panel the proponent had disregarded the concerned studies and letters the residents had presented to them.
The Wellington Council has remained neutral on the plan but is working towards the best decision for the community.
“Council has remained in a proactive stance,” Mayor Rod Buhr said. “Council wants to ensure the community is not disadvantaged by the development.”
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