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Senators visiting Portland to check turbines

Six senators representing every Australian state and most of its political parties are expected in Portland on Monday, March 30 to closely examine allegations that wind farm operations are making some people feel sick.

Chaired by Victorian independent senator John Madigan, the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines plans to hold hearings either at Portland Golf Club or at Glenelg Shire Portland office. Its agenda and list of invitees is likely to be published next week.

A source in Canberra said senators intend to visit the three Cape Bridgewater homes featured in an acoustic report commissioned by Pacific Hydro and written by researcher Steven Cooper, accompanied by Mr Cooper himself.

Exactly when those Cape Bridgewater visits will happen is not likely to be announced publicly.

The committee consists of:

• John Madigan (chair), Independent, Victoria;
• Bob Day (deputy chair), Family First, SA;
• Chris Back, Liberal, WA;
• Matthew Canavan, Nationals, QLD;
• David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Democrat, NSW (former Heywood resident); and
• Anne Urquhart, Labor, Tasmania

At Senate Estimates this month, Senator Madigan quizzed Clean Energy Finance Corporation chief executive officer Oliver Yates about wind farm operations at Cape Bridgewater.

Senator Madigan: “Recent acoustic investigations undertaken at stage two of Pacific Hydro’s Portland project revealed a correlation or a trend between the occurrence of specific infrasound frequency that occurred at various phases of operation at the Cape Bridgewater power generation facility and the residents’ reports of adverse sensation and health effects. This could have ramifications under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. If so, would the facility be in breach of conditions relating to its financial arrangements and contractual obligations with the CEFC?”

Mr Yates: “All projects are required to comply with the law. Currently it is dependent upon whatever planning permits or requirements are there at that site. If the project fails to meet its compliance obligations there is typically a right of termination for the funding requirements under the facilities. We do expect people who are borrowing from any financial institution – it is common, whether you are public or private – to use the money in a way which is used for lawful purposes and, if it is not used for lawful purposes, it is unlikely that the money would be available for very long: it would typically be an event of default.”