A gentle breeze of concern seems to have grown into a strong wind of opposition, judging by an "unexpectedly" packed out public meeting.
More than 120 concerned community members and politicians piled into the Circular Head Rec Centre on Thursday night to discuss a set of major renewable energy projects proposed for the North-West.
The proposals – up to 122 wind turbines on Robbins Island and a 115 kilometre transmission line running from Circular Head to Burnie – have been developed by UPC Robbins Island, a subsidiary of multinational energy company UPC Renewables.
The meeting was run by the Circular Head Coastal Awareness Network (CHCAN), an opposition group started about three years ago.
CHCAN member Colleen Murfitt said she had moved to the area about three years ago to a house which overlooks Robbins Island, and had been campaigning as part of the “small army” ever since.
She said she had been stunned to see so many people turn out to the meeting.
“It’s the only one we’ve had,” she said.
“We’ve struggled because we’ve had no help, and we haven’t known what we’re doing.”
She said the concerns had gathered more attention only recently because the community had “believed it wasn’t going to happen”.
“To start with we were actually for the windfarm,” she said.
“But then when the details we were hearing from UPC didn’t align with the details we were hearing from other people… well.”
Included in the speaker’s list was BirdLife Tasmania’s Dr Eric Woehler, who voiced concerns about building on wetlands of “international significance”.
“BirdLife Tasmania’s not opposed to wind farms, I’ve worked with three other wind farm proponents in Tasmania,” he clarified.
“What we’re saying about the Robbins Island wind farm – it is the wrong development in the wrong place, it’s not an area to industrialise.”
UPC Renewables Australia COO David Pollington said he welcomed discussion and alternative points of view, but was concerned about a spread of “misinformation” about the projects.
“What I’m frustrated by … is the complete misrepresentation of facts,” he said.
“There’s a benefit to everyone … it would be a shame to have members of the community causing angst unnecessarily.
“Some of these individuals seem to be hell-bent on a particular agenda and it doesn’t matter whether they prosecute that with facts or just things they’ve made up.”
He said Dr Woehler had been consulted in the earlier stages of the project, and would have the chance to give more feedback when the development application was released to the public.
The development application is currently being assessed by the state and federal environmental protection agencies, and is expected to be released in May 2021.
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