The government wind farm meeting the Premier (probably) doesn’t know about

o'farrell laugh

It’s not funny, Barry.

The New South Wales Government has caved into community pressure over coal seam gas mining partly due to the noise impact on local residents, while one of its departments is organising an invitation-only meeting to consolidate the state’s wind farm industry.

As reported in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, the government has announced a ban on all CSG activity within two kilometres of residential areas and industry clusters such as horse breeders and wine producers.

It has also announced the chief scientist and engineer, Mary O’Kane, would review all coal seam gas activity in NSW, including the impact on water catchments, and report on any risks by July.

But a document leaked to STT (copy below) shows a NSW Government department is working to promote turbine hosting.

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage will hold an invitation-only session in Yass next week to support farmers in the wind farm business.

And a major part of the program will include a briefing on the NSW Farmers Association wind farm guide for farmers – a highly controversial document already the target of scathing criticism from many association members.

The guide has been slammed for its strong pro-wind stance, including encouraging members to contact the Clean Energy Council for advice.

See our earlier post.

stop csg protestThe government’s CSG decision, endorsed by state cabinet on Monday night, followed a surge in community anger which forced energy company AGL to suspend plans to drill for coal seam gas beneath thousands of homes in south-western Sydney, according to the Herald.

Announcing the decision, Premier Barry O’Farrell said suburbs, country towns and other urban areas would become ‘‘no-go zones for CSG activities in NSW’’.

‘‘Families in residential areas should not have to worry about their quality of life being affected by the noise, visual impacts and other effects of coal seam gas mining,” Premier O’Farrell said.

The Premier has previously said he is no fan of wind farms – but clearly he is deaf to the equally-loud community anger they are causing across rural NSW.

STT also asks the Premier is he aware of a government department actively canvassing for turbine hosts?

And if Premier O’Farrell opposes CSG on the grounds of noise and visual impacts why doesn’t he take an equally strong stand on wind farms, where residents are opposing them on the same grounds?

Waubra Foundation CEO Dr Sarah Laurie said her organisation had received reports from residents whose sleep and health had been adversely impacted by compressors from coal seam gas operations near Tara in Queensland.

“These residents have had continual repetitive sleep disturbance and other symptoms identical to some of those described by residents living near wind turbines,” Dr Laurie said.

“We have shared information with those residents impacted by noise from CSG, coal mines in the Upper Hunter, and to residents living near gas fired power stations.”

parliament house demoDr Laurie said research showed residents suffered CSG noise impacts out to 10km.

“Whilst we commend Premier O Farrell for taking this step of instituting what appears to be a 2km buffer zone, the reports of residents severely affected by noise from existing CSG operations in Queensland have occurred at distances out to 7km.

“Dr Steve Robinson, from Gloucester, reported to the NSW Upper House inquiry into CSG that there were noise impacts from mining out to 10km.”

Dr Laurie also said CSG miners corrupted noise results similar to wind farm operators.

“As with wind turbines, it appears that there is no independent full spectrum acoustic monitoring, and the residents report there are confidentiality agreements in some contracts with developers, and that the noise increases immediately after the company’s acoustic consultants have completed their monitoring,” she said.

“This would suggest, that as with wind turbines, the companies who are noise polluters are ‘fudging’ the acoustic audits, and that they know full well that there is a noise pollution problem.”

The following invitation was sent out by Infigen to turbine hosts at Capital wind farm:

The Wind Farm Host Landholders Network

and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

cordially invite you to:

A Wind Farm Host Landholders Forum

Thursday 28th February 2013

2-5pm

Yass Soldiers Club

86 Meehan St, Yass

This is an important event for property owners, their families, business partners and/or legal representatives, who host or are preparing to host a wind farm.  Participants will hear from landholders at different stages of development, hear from a solicitor experienced with negotiating wind farm contracts, receive a copy of the NSW Farmers “Guide for Wind Farm Host Landholders” and provide input into the direction of the Host Landholders Network.  The forum is intended to promote networking between host landholders to discuss, as a group, the challenges and opportunities that face our industry.

This is an invitation only event in the Functions Room of the Yass Soldiers Club.  Please RSVP with your contact details, full names and the name of your wind farm.

RSVP by Monday 25th February 2013

RSVP and enquiries

dieuwer.reynders@environment.nsw.gov.au

0437 574 703 or 02 6229 7032

Wind Farm Hosts Landholder Forum          

                   Thursday 28th February 2013

                   Functions Room, Yass Soldiers Club

                   86 Meehan St, Yass

                   2-5pm

Program

1.45 pm      Registration and light refreshments

2.00 pm    Introductions and background

The Wind Farm Host Landholders Network and the NSW Renewable Energy Precincts program Hosting a wind farm – considerations for landholders

Landholders and a solicitor share their experiences of wind farm development covering a range of issues from negotiating contracts, the construction period, benefits to the farm and other lessons learnt.

Afternoon tea

Panel discussion

Opportunity to question the speakers and provide comment on their stories.

NSW Farmers “Wind Farm Guide for Host Landholders”

A brief introduction of this guide which will be available for all participants.

The Wind Farm Host Landholders Network – where to from here?

A session to get ideas from participants on what such a network can achieve.  How it might operate and who would like to be involved.

5.00 pm      Close – participants are welcome to stay for further refreshments and to continue informal discussions.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Yes, the NSW Farmers Association wind farm guide for farmers is an absolute disgrace. Michael Lyons’ eloquent letter to the NSWFA in your recent blog “Critical Omissions and Twisted Commentary” set it all out in perfect detail! Well done. The NSWFA absolutely needs to withdraw it and go back to the drawing board if they really want to present an even handed and educational information tool.
    Below is a letter I have written and had published in several regional newspapers.

    29th January, 2013
    Dear Sir,

    NSW Farmers recently released their much requested Wind Farm Guide. How unfortunate a great opportunity was missed to produce a document of real information and value, one which truly reflected the reality of the wind industry.

    Immediately the authenticity of the information provided must be questioned. Why would NSW Farmers employ GHD to author this document; GDH with its direct employment links to the Wind Industry (Acciona) and the Clean Energy Council? Acciona, a Spanish company, operates three wind farms in Australia, including Gunning Wind Farm at Cullerin Range, and have four more approved. The Clean Energy Council is the rebadged Wind Energy Association of Australia, a wind industry mouth piece.

    Serious Wind Farm Guide limitations include glossing over the restriction of fire fighting capabilities. Jim Hamilton (Wind turbines fan fire risk, The Land, 17/01/2013) describes the problems very well and points out how several communities in NSW, which are potentially about to host wind farms, would have been more endangered. The mention by the Wind Farm Guide that “Wind turbines may also reduce aerial access for bushfire management, although this risk of often offset by improved ground access” is a pallid representation of the ravaging fires facing farmers this summer.

    While more realistically the authoritative Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia’s (AAAA) Wind Farm Policy states: “Wind farms can have far-reaching footprints that can remove significant amounts of land from treatment [fighting bushfires] for a considerable distance from the wind farm boundary.”

    The Wind Farm Guide talks about the increased jobs within the local community of a wind farm. There are obviously more jobs during construction, but these are often specialised jobs with “fly ins” from outside. During the more significant and longer operation phase jobs plummet. The Environmental Assessment for the proposed Flyers Creek Wind Farm notes there will be three full time jobs post construction with no local guarantee.

    Further, the guide states, “The technical design life of a wind turbine is currently 20 to 30 years”. A recent study out of the UK now reduces this figure to 12 maybe 15 years.

    The Wind Farm Guide notes that there are “Environmental benefits from CO2 emission reduction” when three recent analyses (including an authoritative Dutch study by Le Pair, 2012) of the total life time cycle of a wind turbine conclude that there is very little CO2 reduction, if at all.

    The section on health and noise defies current knowledge, with no effort to indicate the increasing evidence of adverse health effects to a potential wind turbine host or neighbour. The absence of caution and links to sites such as http://www.waubrafoundation.com.au and other sites that could have been included at the end of the document questions impartiality and thoroughness.

    Decommissioning is an aspect often forgotten by the Wind Industry and potential hosts. It requires confidence that the wind developer will be around in 20-25 years. Therefore check the developer’s share price and then be alarmed.

    Hosts must be aware that wind companies will leave the 300 cubic metre concrete foundations when they go. Exercise caution with any wind company who resists paying a decommissioning bond upfront with the appropriate regulatory authority (as mining companies do).

    Independently assess potential land value loss for hosts and neighbours and if unsure ask for contractual guarantees.

    There are two statements in the NSW Farmers Wind Farm Guide that are noteworthy:

    “Think carefully before signing an agreement which includes a confidentiality clause”; and

    It is “highly recommended that you get independent legal and financial guidance from qualified personal [sic] with experience in wind farm developments”.

    That, my friends, says it all.

  2. Host: Any living organism from which a parasite obtains nourishment and protection.
    Everybody should reply to OE&H (email on invite)and accept their very kind invitation. At least you get a free feed & NFF booklet!!!

  3. Cant have coal seam gas in SW Sydney but too bad for rural communities with wind turbines as out of sight, out of mind. We do not count as far as Government goes not enough voters. Its all a matter of money and for those who host I hope they have sleepless nights like their non host neighbours. Bring on independent study to prove how bad turbines are and that is because they are industrial machines which require backup 2/7 from coal or gas plants not wind only machines like windmills.

  4. Jackie Rovensky says:

    Unfortunately it is not a case of if the farmers are fooled they get what they deserve, because it is their neighbours and other community members who suffer their foolish acceptance of everything without question. You would hope with all the work being undertaken by those wanting research there would be no more people signing up until it has been done – but money speaks louder to some and if all these ‘officials’ say it is OK they believe it. Faining ignorance and taking the money is easier than accepting the truth.

  5. Grant Winberg says:

    The NSW Government has been sponsoring such events for some time – see below – but now invitation only. Surely such enlightening events should be open to all interested parties.
    eg 2010 – NSW Dept of Environment, Climate Change & Water:-
    “Wind turbines produce clean energy, they generate jobs in regional communities and landholders that host turbines can earn significant revenue.
    Hear from experts – landholders operating, or planning wind farms & people working in the industry – about the steps involved in wind farm development for landowners.
    Date: Friday 26th November 2010
    Time: 8:15 – 4pm
    Venue: Blayney Bowling Club
    This is your chance to hear first hand about wind farm projects – from concept to delivery – from those with experience.
    For landholders, residents, councils, local business and industry; any and all who are interested in finding out more.

    RSVP: Friday 19th (for catering)
    T: 0457594193 | E: grant.christopherson@environment.nsw.gov.au

    Program
    NSW Renewable Energy Precinct Program: Dr Chris Briggs – State wide Coordinator for the program – on the latest government initiatives.
    Wind Industry: Russell Marsh – Project Manager with the Clean Energy Council on the Energy Market for Renewables
    Legal issues: Hugh Piper – lawyer Newcastle and Armidale based – extensive experience with the wind industry
    Planning: Jonathon Carle -Government representative will provide an overview of the regulatory and planning process
    Wind Data: Dr. Matthew Bechley from Garrad Hassan on how to make wind data bankable
    Landholders: David Parfett on Existing wind farm & Kim Masters on proposed wind farm
    Business structures: Cooperative to company – models for bringing the resource to market. Overview with Jamie Chivers, Project Manager Kyoto Energy Park
    Grid Connections: Chris Dalitz, Country Energy Dubbo, outlines this all important, final step”
    When will the NSW Govt sponsor information events alerting prospective Hosts to the onerous obligations and limitations they are about to contract for over the next 20+ years? And their responsibilities to neighbours and local rural community?

Trackbacks

  1. […] cites a meeting to be held in Yass next Thursday where farmers who will host wind turbines on their property will meet to discuss […]

  2. […] on finding out that the NSW Environment and Heritage department, which oversees the EPA, is planning to run a pro-wind farm seminar, we are forced to ask further […]

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