An anti-wind farm resident of Collector says he will sue his neighbours should they become turbine hosts as part of a proposed wind farm in the small community north of Canberra.
A proposal for a 63-turbine wind farm at Collector was referred to the Planning Assessment Commission by the NSW Department of Planning late last month, with the recommendation the plan be approved. The commission will hold a meeting in Collector on Tuesday to hear from the public.
But last week, lawyers acting for Friends of Collector president Tony Hodgson sent a letter to landholders who would probably host a turbine. It said there was precedent for legal action as it was “anticipated that the operation of the wind farm will have substantial and actionable adverse affects [sic] upon our Client”.
“By leasing your land to accommodate wind turbines, you authorise the nuisance that is likely to result from the noise emitted by the operation of those turbines and you can be held liable in respect of the entirety of the damage sustained by those affected by the nuisance, including any personal injury that materialises,” the letter said.
The letter, sent to eight properties, warned that development consent was not a defence against possible legal action and recommended recipients seek legal advice.
Mr Hodgson said he had been advised by his lawyers that there was “extensive” precedent to sue his neighbours should the turbines prove a nuisance, and that he would seek damages.
“The installation of those wind turbines will cause a nuisance on my property and you’re not allowed to do that,” he said.
“It’s already quite clear that just the notion that there’s potentially wind turbines on my property or the adjoining properties … leads to a substantial diminution in value of the property of at least 35 per cent and in some cases 60 per cent.
“This isn’t a threat, this is a promise. You put those things up, I will sue you. There’s not much to discuss.”
He said the letter was the second in two years, but he had received no response. He would be guided by his lawyers should the wind farm be approved, but he refused to comment whether he had received guidance about possible legal action against the company proposing to build the wind farm, RATCH-Australia.
One of the recipients, local farmer and wind farm proponent Gary Poile, said he read less than one of the six pages, and “had a bit of a chuckle”.
“To be perfectly honest, I only read the first bit of it and I really didn’t treat it very seriously,” he said. “It’s silly games, I’m not really worried about him.
“We’re going to the bullying tactics, are we? I don’t know what it’s all about, but I assume that’s what it is, old school bullying tactics.”
Despite the legal threat being aimed specifically at the landholders rather than the wind farm company, Mr Poile said he would refer any action against him back to RATCH and was confident they would deal with it.
Both Mr Hodgson and Mr Poile will be addressing the commission’s meeting in Collector, which was extended to a second day after many people registered to make submissions.
There will be a total of 41 submissions made by both groups, who are allotted 15-minute slots, and individuals, who are given five minutes to address the commissioners.
Mr Hodgson said he saw about five proponents on the schedule, while the balance of submissions he believed would be against the wind farm.
But Mr Poile said there were a lot of people and groups he did not recognise as locals, including anti-wind farm activist Sarah Laurie from the Waubra Foundation, based in South Australia.
Mr Poile said he believed there would be about an even number of local submissions both for and against the project, and he doubted the meeting would result in conflict.
“I don’t think it would get heated because basically everybody knows what everybody’s on about,” he said. ”I don’t see that there would be any great surprises.”
“I just hope it’s over by Christmas one way or another.”
The meeting will be at Collector Memorial Hall from 4pm on Tuesday and again from 9am on Wednesday.
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