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Public pressure yields results in wind turbine saga 

Credit:  By Gabriel Garcia | Mar 8, 2023 | sheppnews.com.au ~~

A community information session and protest have reportedly yielded results as community members rally against a possible wind turbine development in the Boomanoomana area.

Two weeks after raising concerns at a community meeting attended by 70 residents, a protest rally against Windlab’s proposed wind farm development was held Wednesday last week.

Roughly 300 gathered at Lalalty Hall on Wednesday, March 1 to protest a proposed wind turbine development. Photo by Gabriel Garcia

It resulted in proponents of the wind farm meeting with residents on Thursday.

Berrigan resident Carly Marriott said she was optimistic, following that meeting, that there would be more of an effort to listen and respond to community concerns.

“Thanks to community pressure we have turned a corner and we believe we’ll get a good result for the broader community,” Ms Marriott said.

“We hope that the community can heal from the division caused.”

For their part, Windlab reiterated it never planned to cause community division and it took its commitment to local communities seriously.

The proposed wind turbine development is expected to include a maximum of 26 turbines and a substation, which will connect to existing transmission infrastructure.

Boomanoomana residents said they received a letter outlining the proposal only two weeks before the March 1 consultation session.

It resulted in a community meeting on February 22, at which the 70 residents opposed the development and raised concerns about the way the company had “gone about things”.

“Windlab only sent the letter to residents within a few kilometres of the proposed site,” a group spokesperson said.

“They are very busy telling us they are consulting with the community but the fact that the process began two years ago, if not more, and only now Windlab are coming to consult with the local community after potential local Windlab hosts have signed contracts.”

Heading into last week’s protest, the community laid out four key reasons why residents are against the proposed plans:

1. Residents feel that their quality of life and the right to enjoy a quiet environment is being impeded. The group believes the wind turbines will possibly have a negative effect on their farm values, health, livestock, ability to use crucial farming technology including aerial cropping applications as well as their general wellbeing.

2. The group objects to the idea of a select group of families being able to fundamentally alter the local landscape and possibly split the community without first consulting with their neighbours.

3. The group raised concerns about the health of locals, saying that hearing issues, problems with balance, sleep disturbance and trouble concentrating are just some of the alleged issues that wind turbines can cause.

4. The group doesn’t trust studies that Windlab said it would undertake concerning the effect of the turbines on local animals, especially birds.

About 300 protestors had gathered at Lalalty Hall last week to voice their displeasure at the proposed development.

Holding placards and bringing their tractors, the protestors were particularly incensed that the company had allegedly contacted a select group of families and failed to consult with the wider community until a few weeks ago.

Local farmer Jason Noonan, who attended the protest, said he said he wasn’t happy about the proposal or the way Windlab had gone about it.

“I just don’t feel they (wind turbines) are right in our area,” Mr Noonan said.

He said the recent developments had torn the fabric of the community apart.

“We don’t want that. We want this to be gone and our community can get on with farming without the divide.”

Much of this anger is rooted in concern and in a fiery speech at Wednesday’s meeting, Mrs Marriott said local worries extended far beyond whether the turbines will spoil the landscape.

“It (the wind turbines) will also pose physical and mental health threats to our children,” she said.

Windlab chief executive John Martin said he became aware of the community angst before last week’s protest.

Initially planned to coincide with the company’s planned community information session, Mr Martin said the sessions were postponed to allow extra time.

“Causing disruption in our host communities is in complete opposition to Windlab’s values as a responsible operator,” he said.

“(The company) will take a step back in the process to prioritise working with the community members directly to ensure their perspectives are heard, and any questions or concerns they have about the proposal are addressed.

“We take our commitments to community seriously.

“If a project cannot be responsibly developed, Windlab will not proceed.

“We recognise the potential for any new development to have an impact, and will always work collaboratively with community members to deliver projects that meet the expectations of local people.”

Source:  By Gabriel Garcia | Mar 8, 2023 | sheppnews.com.au

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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