November 29, 2013
Australia, Editorials

Ruling must be on the side of caution

Central Western Daily | Nov. 29, 2013 |

Orange is on the verge of becoming home to one of the largest wind farms in the country but it is vital that environmental benefits do not come with unacceptable costs to its neighbours.

At a staggering 150 metres high to the tip of a vertical blade and producing enough power for up to 50,000 households, this proposal dwarfs the windfarm at Carcoar in every sense.

There is yet to be a final ruling from the Planning Assessment Commission on whether the wind farm goes ahead but if it does it will usher in a new chapter in electricity generation for the tablelands.

The arguments of opponents are well known, although there is less scientific evidence of adverse health and psychological effects than there is evidence of the benefits of this type of green power.

Regulation of the industry is still evolving, and like the height of the towers and size of the generators, the size of buffer zones around residences will probably change in the future too.

The Department of Planning has asked the developer to drop two proposed towers from its plan because of the visual impact on a nearby home but it will be up to the commission to rule on this.

When it does the commission should put the visual impact in a similar category to mobile phone and high voltage power line towers. No-one in a rural area should be expected to live in the shadow of a huge man-made structure, but neither can they expect to look out to a horizon uninterrupted by any sign of human structures. In an age of advancing communications and environmental challenges few can expect to be totally quarantined.

What should not be compromised is the opportunity to safeguard residents from unnecessary noise, vibrations and possible health risks.

In this the commission must rule on the side of caution, for sake of residents in the Fyers Creek area and other communities which will inevitably be affected in the future.

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