Sit down and shut up – or we’ll call the police

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You will enter the room only if you have the right colored card.

You will not ask questions until we say you can ask questions.

If you cause trouble, we will call the police and you will be removed.

A public meeting held in a small South Australian outback town has shed new light on how wind farm companies now run “community consultation” sessions – by calling the police on locals when things get heated.

REpower tried to coral up to 120 people into a series of small, more-easily managed groups during an outspoken meeting on January 13.

Locals were told they had to queue for colored cards to gain access to 20-minute company presentations. And only 25 would be admitted at a time.

Questions would not be accepted until after the REpower executives had given their spiel, residents were told.

And when they objected, the company called the police who evicted locals not carrying the right colored card.

Welcome to wind farm consultation Gulag-style – a way of disseminating company propaganda to local communities more akin to Stalinist Russia than 21st century Australia.

Curramulka is 186 km west of Adelaide, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it farming community. It has a pub, a school and a community centre – and passionate locals with deep roots in the area.

REpower Australia is part of the Suzlon Group, an Indian-based multinational wanting to build Australia’s biggest wind farm. Ceres will comprise 199 turbines on the Yorke Peninsula.

Writing in the local paper, the Country Times, Jeff Cook from Minlaton says:

“As I tried to enter the venue I was barred because I didn’t have an orange ticket. After finding where to get one, I was given a yellow ticket, allowing entry to the next session.

“Then a formal announcement was made the sessions would be cancelled and closed because the first one was unruly.

“Shortly after that, a number of us were allowed entry but the presenters were not prepared to take questions from the floor and would only allow 25 people per session and you had to go through the presentation before asking questions.”

Cook says the police were called, sending out any people without the right-colored ticket.

“The invitation to attend said 1-4 pm so I had expected a comprehensive formal presentation with questions from the floor, and answers.”

No such luck, Mr Cook.

Another resident, Clive Redding, says developers treated the local community with contempt, and were unwilling to engage on issues such as wind turbine syndrome or hazards to fire fighting created by turbines.

Farmer Martin Hayles says the wind farm would severely restrict aerial spraying and bating activities but REpower executives seemed confused when asked about this.

Hayles says he was offered turbines but knocked them back and has told police he was assaulted during the meeting.

Hayles says 250 people are part of the Yorke Peninsula Community Group fighting a project that Senator Nick Xenophon has said is a white elephant that would increase power prices.

Country Times editor Amie Brokenshire says the Ceres wind farm is dividing the community and splitting friendships.

And who is the company behind this project?

Suzlon is a financially troubled wind turbine builder from India that has only managed to stave off bankruptcy after lenders approved a plan to restructure nearly $1.86 billion in debt this month.

And that plan includes a condition that the company raise $1 billion in three years through selling shares and assets.

It is not known if CERES will be part of this.

Additionally, one of Suzlon’s American customers refused to pay for turbines after it discovered cracks in blades it supplied.

So the lives of a group of Australian farmers and landholders, their well-being and the cohesiveness of their rural community are sacrificed while a foreign multinational tap dances its way out of financial trouble.

And this is happening now, in our country, with state and federal government approval.

We should be ashamed. We should be mad as hell.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Michael Fortuna says:

    Another study, paid for by big wind, is discredited.
    This is a new report on infrasound. The wind industry and its supporters can no longer say that wind turbines do not produce significant levels of infra and low-frequency sound just because the sound pressure levels do not rise to the thresholds of perception of audible sounds. Here is a link to the report: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fdocs.wind-watch.org%2FShirley-LFN-infrasound.pdf&h=pAQGf7RLW
    The report is 51 pages of a lot of highly technical data. To save you time, read page 48 starting section III and section iV which carries over onto page 49.

  2. Michael Fortuna says:

    I have spoken with some of my people and we have a couple of suggestions. These are only suggestions and they are based on limited information so please take them as just ideas. They may not even be possible depending on your circumstances.
    1. Go to change.org and start a petition. We will help you get signatures as we have contacts in Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, and across the U.S. If you follow this link you will see a petition that is being used by another group in the U.K. http://www.change.org/petitions/first-minister-alex-salmond-stop-the-reckless-siting-of-wind-turbines-in-scotland-s-scenic-landscapes
    2. If the meeting is being held by the wind company and not local planning, marginalize them by getting as many people to go to the meeting as possible but do NOT go into the meeting. (Inevitably there will be some that go into the meeting. Ignore them.) If the meeting is in a public building you can congregate in the parking lot but do not block any access, exit, or driving path. Do NOT wave posters in front of any cars entering even if they belong to the wind company. Try to get media coverage. If you don’t get the coverage: Be prepared and have someone with a movie camera, film someone else using a hand held microphone conducting interviews just like a TV station would. The interview questions should be written down. Make it as professional as possible and then get it posted on U-Tube. Once it’s there Facebook pages like mine will start posting links to it and asking others to view it. This will help with the petition and possibly an interview on Wind Wise Radio.
    3. Every local government has different rules. Here in the states our planning department always has a number of things on their agenda. When new projects are proposed the public has X number of days to respond. The planning department must then respond to those letters and e-mails. Most systems work something like this so the idea is to choke them on their own system. Disagree with every project they have planned, send in letters or e-mails concerning every little issue that comes before them. Flood them with requests for maps and project details. Have everyone call and ask for directions to the meetings. Call and ask who will be there representing the company. Jam them up any way you can. They’ll get the message, but you need a lot of people to do this.
    I realize that none of this is easy, you need a large following, and there will always be those few that are willing to sell out their neighbors. Even if you can’t use these ideas I hope they spur some thinking that will help you in your fight. You have a right to show your righteous indignation at what is being done to you rather than for you.

  3. Michael Fortuna says:

    I am the founder of the Friends of Mojave here in California which will soon be home to the largest wind farm in the U.S. I live with wind turbines on a daily basis and it is like living in a factory. My first hand experience has shown a loss of property value, a loss of social justice, and a marked increase in restless sleep. Here in California the Little Hoover Commission report, completed for the state, expressed grave concerns that the installation of so many wind turbines was going to make it difficult at best to meet the states greenhouse gas reduction goals. That would be due to the number of new gas fired generating plants needed to make up the base line power to the grid. Near the end of last year Germany started up the first of five new gas fired electrical plants needed for the exact reasons given in the Little Hoover Commission report. Of equal concern was the potentially exorbitant cost to the public. Permanent jobs are nil and the damage done to our area has eliminated tourism as a source of income. When these projects began we told about how money would flow into our town. By the end of 18 months we had 10 business close their doors. Our roads are in need of constant repair from the abuse they get from heavy trucks. Governments and politicians can no longer afford to ignore the overwhelming evidence that these projects harm and forever change the public’s health and way of life. Thousands upon thousands of people walking away from the single largest investment they will ever make in their life is proof that the harm is real. Once the land is given over to these developers it will never be the same. We support your efforts and wish you success in stopping this criminal abduction of your way of life.

  4. Jackie Rovensky says:

    Martin, great information from Rex, this just shows how Suzlon/REpower have played the game of deciept, as they say in their blurb they are including a connection to the mining site. This and other things they have done and the financial history of Suzlon/REpower should be at the top of any Governments investigation before granting any sort of approval. In fact all these companies should show they are financially stable before any applications are even considered let alone granted, and the proof should not rest with the companies blurb or chest pounding, or even share prices, but from fully independent financial investigations of the companies.

  5. Just throwing out some more ideas….We had another meeting last year put on by an environmental club featuring a wind turbine pusher, giving testimonial that all was fine with her and living near turbines. They were refusing to allow signs in, so some tossed them forward to others already in the room. We challenged every word, waited for our turn at the mic, refused to let misinformation stand and the meeting became ours. I think we discouraged anymore meetings like it.

    These people come into OUR communies and expect us to treat them with respect. Their only goal is to raise huge towers that will create harm to health, home and community while they rake in our tax dollars and electricity payments. I’ve been to more wind meetings than I care to think about and have watched different tactics used here in Canada but I think they use the same ones everywhere. Wind reps face endless numbers of earnest, honest and trusting people who open their hearts up and try to convince these people that there are horrendous problems to health, property values, tourism, wildlife, migratory routes, wetlands, decommissoning, high energy costs that eliminate legitimate jobs,etc, etc.,
    Some wind reps look like they want to fall asleep. Some look trapped and keep checking the clock. Some smirk. But the worst ones are these; the ones who look sympathetic, who take notes, who appear genuinly interested in what these people are saying. They do not give a damn about you or your neighbours. They’ve heard it a million times. And they don’t care about anything but thier acting skills.

    We’ve taken to bringing in signs that counter what the windie poster boards say, ie: We will stand next to the board that says all is just fine with health and noise with our own handmade sign that says: You Don’t Get Used To It, YOU GET SICK

    The truce here has been that as long as the sign isn’t on a stick, it can enter meetings.

    Seems to me most vampires are afraid of sharpened stakes.

    • Martin Hayles says:

      Lorrie,
      Thankyou so much for your input. In Australia we are young to this parasitic ‘industry’. These creatures that exist within the ‘wind industry’ remind me so much, metaphorically speaking, of the vampires in ’30 days of night’. In that movie the lead vampire played by Danny Huston says something along the lines of ” we have spent so much time convincing them that we don’t exist”. The charlatans have seemingly convinced the unthinking majority that what they are doing is for the common good. Ironically, it will be ” common law” that sees the vampire destroyed. We will win this argument against corrupt corporates and complicit governance.

      Martin

  6. In a recent meeting in Manvers, Canada with a Q and A setup, they had to admit the reception the company received in Manvers has been like no other. They said this several times that the resistance here has not been equalled anywhere else. The panel was challenged at every turn by very bright articulate people. They were also challenged by children. It was very loud and people did not give up, did not settle down and even the moderator was told to put a sock in it on more than one occasion. There were some brilliant speakers who brought the filled to capacity audience to a standing ovation several times. The company has been scrambling because so many errors have been pointed out and they keep trying to fix them but only succeed in making things worse. An example. A complaint was lodged as to why neither Snowy Ridge or Settlers Landing had any photomontages – didn’t seem fair since other Sprott projects had lovely imagery posted on their website. So, they caved and on the day of the last public meeting for Snowy Ridge photomontages were posted. These images raised the ire of people who attended the meeting and were challenged. People were told curtly that the images were ‘accurate’… fast forward a few days after the meeting, the photomontages disappear from the website…Why… well it turns out the images of the turbines were too small….

    So when a photomontages were posted at the night of the meeting for Settlers Landing – one can’t even see them… they tried to minimize them.. and this drew even more howls from people attending this meeting.

    And .. because people complained about the comment form which had leading questions about whether people like wind energy etc., they changed the form.. passed out hundreds at the Snowy Ridge meeting… one problem though… they forgot to put an address down as to where to send the comment forms to.

    So it has all become quite a circus. The hope is to have these final meetings tossed out and a have a new set..which will buy some time…

  7. This sounds exactly like Waterloo in the mid north. We are having terrible trouble now they are built, the nose and sleep disturbance is atrocious. The community will never recover and people are having to leave town to survive!

  8. This sounds like a familiar story, I can remember when the now defunct wind power pty ltd (operated by now hawthorn football club president Newbold) tried to hold a public meeting in Smeaton many years ago. They couldnt answer questions, one of the company directors cried as locals mocked him and laughed at the pitiful display.
    This was the last public meeting they held! despite calls for another one they tried all the tricks in the wind farm “consultation” book. Holding one on one meetings, that locals refused to attend, and setting up a Community reference group, that half the attendees resigned from after the first meeting.
    The trick is, dont get sucked into meeting them on their terms, ask them to hold public meetings aggressivly. And just flat out dont attend anything else they conduct, that way they cant claim to have consulted the community.
    These spivs dont like aggro, most of them feel very intimidated and wont want to come back to your town if you target them and keep the pressure on.

  9. Sounds like the direction these meetings are taking here in Ontario. OPP presence…security guards. How long do we sit back and take it?

  10. Reblogged this on Quixotes Last Stand.

  11. Wind Witch Doctor says:

    In 2008 Suzlon (let’s be clear here, they are not REpower, they are still Suzlon, they have simply changed their name in an attempt to distance themselves from the very bad publicity they have created themselves over the last few years at a number of their projects….. misleading, lying, sleazy, bribing, devious, scum……sorry, I digress) had to replace 1251 of their bodgy turbine blades in the US as they were literally falling apart-google ‘Suzlon blade recall’ and check it out……

    So they bully farmers, lie, bribe neighbours and to top it off can’t make decent blades to save themselves……….yeah, I’d sign one of their host contracts….NOT! Sadly many doppy farmers have signed up with them….ever read one of those contracts? Man you would have to be mad, stupid or gullible to put your name to a contract that lasted up to 50-60 years…….and screwed you very year of it!

    Oh, by the way, check out the Suzlon share price, it’s tanked and doesn’t look like recovering…..lost about 90% of its value in 3 years, no wonder their spewing about the political risk investors see in the industry. Who would invest in an industry with no clear future, reliant on government subsidy to survive, with growing opposition to them everyday from the general public as they slowly understand why their electricity prices are skyrocketing? No one right now, and not until the future of the REC is clear………

    Anyway, Suzlon suck and everyone needs to know……and probably do now. Good one STT!

  12. The very same thing is happening here in Ontario Canada where the wind scammers run their “public consultations” like a bunch of one sided goons, surrounded by police and security guards in case some 78 year old in a walker will stagger across the floor and whack the speaker with his or her cane!
    Nothing but politically legitimized criminals!

  13. To me this situation exemplifies why we need something different in the planning system, to what we have. The decision has often been made prior to any consideration about the impact on neighbours or the rest of the community. Law as it is, is taking us nowhere. It is not identifying the cost outside of the development proponent. It is only if there is legal opposition, is anything else considered in court. A place on the bench for an ethicist to DAPs, and an ethics council to sit for major projects like this to consider public interest. Such councils contain a range of relevant representatives and are able to consult independent expertise. This accept what would like to say, without being threatened by police action. We have seen the police threat also used by the EPA against complainants. It fails to account for public interest. How the Government has it working.

  14. Martin Hayles says:

    I have recently spoken with Marc Twining, exploration manager of Rex Minerals who are drilling at the Hillside site on Yorke Peninsula in the same general area as the proposed Ceres windfarm project . He explained to me that the memorandum of understanding that Rex has with Ceres is simply a legal document to “have a conversation” within a legal framework. He explicitly stated that the MOU does not imply in any way that there is any agreement with Ceres to purchase power from them.
    Although not actually saying so Ceres / REpower would like to leave the impression that it is a done deal. It is not.
    If Rex were to purchase power from a renewable energy source such as Ceres windfarm and it was considered to be green energy, my understanding would be that the cost of this power would at a premium.
    A green mine? I would have thought the two to be mutually exclusve. How can you possibly have ‘green’ tailing dams?

  15. Grant Winberg says:

    The South Australian Government (SAG) presumably has ultimate responsibility for processing approval of this proposed Suzlon wealth redistribution farm in SA, The people of SA should be ashamed if they allow their Govt to, as a minimum, turn a blind eye to this despicably poor treatment of small rural communities. Presumably, the local member is either shaking in his boots with fear or with rage. Either way, he should be leading the community in its defence of its rights.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Holding “consultations” where prospective turbine hosts literally beat up their opposition (as happened at the meeting run by CERES on Yorke Peninsula, SA in January last year) to prevent the “correct message” being spoiled by pesky questions from people who get the fact that the whole thing is a fraud of the highest order could be just a little “counter-productive” to efforts to “win hearts and minds” (see our post here). […]

  2. […] are aware of what is really going on.  No – it’s either one-on-one in your home or at tightly controlled “consultations” set up by the developer. You know – the ones where the prospective turbine hosts literally beat up the opposition (as […]

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