The Gullen Range wind farm is a disaster waiting to happen

  old journoFrom a correspondent in the field

Gullen Range wind farm – a project by the Chinese company Goldwind – is approved, and is currently being built.

Local people have tried to stop it in the NSW Land & Environment Court, without success.

We have lobbied the NSW government and local MPs, again without success.

We can’t get any coverage in the national media, only in local newspapers. And yet the project is likely to be a disaster for the local community. You will understand why when I give you some details.

1. The project consists of 73 turbines strung out along a 25 km tract of country along the Great Dividing Range, to the north-west of Goulburn and to the south of Crookwell.

The site is about 25 km north-west of Goulburn, and about 7 km south of Crookwell. The project was originally 84 turbines, but 11 were removed from the plan by the Minister of Planning in 2009, and this was ratified by the Land & Environment Court in 2010.

The turbines were removed for the sake of the Crookwell airstrip, used by the Rural Fire Service, by emergency services, and by private planes.

2. What makes this project special is the very large number of non-involved residences in the vicinity of the turbines. There are 32 non-involved residences within 1.5 km of the turbines; about 60 within 2 km; and 118 within 3 km. Within 5 km there are about 240 non-involved residences.

3. The Australian noise consultant Bob Thorne has stated that adverse health effects can be felt out to 3.5 km from turbines. So the extent of the adverse impact from Gullen Range is obviously enormous.goldwind

Goldwind turbine factory, China

4. The project was put on public exhibition in August 2008, and we put in submissions. The project was approved by the Minister of Planning in June 2009.

My association, the Parkesbourne/Mummel Landscape Guardians, put a merit appeal into the NSW Land & Environment Court in 2009, and judgment was handed down in May 2010.

The Minister had restricted herself to granting acquisition rights to one landowner who has several subdivisions on the border of the site, and to restricting a few turbines at night in certain months for the sake of the Powerful Owl.

The L&EC increased the number of landowners with acquisition rights to 7, and to an 8th conditionally, and made a minor change to how wind speed is to be measured. But essentially both the Minister and the L&EC ignored the potentially devastating impacts on the surrounding community.

Goldwind China

Goldwind head-office, China

5. Since the Coalition was elected in NSW in early 2011 we have lobbied, in the form of e-mails, letters, lengthy submissions, face-to-face meetings with both officials and ministers (Planning, and Environment). But all in vain.

The NSW government’s position is that the project has been reviewed by the Land & Environment Court, and that therefore the government can do nothing. On the issue of adverse health effects, the government’s expressed view to us is that the government stands by the NHMRC’s Rapid Review, and holds that there is no evidence for adverse health effects.

This of course ignores the people who are already suffering at Cullerin, and Capital, and Crookwell One in NSW, at Waubra and Macarthur in Victoria, in Waterloo and Hallett in South Australia, etc, etc.

6. The real problem, as I’m sure you are aware, is that the noise guidelines in use in Australia to assess wind farms are totally useless.

We have made lengthy analyses of the deficiencies of these noise guidelines, and submitted them to the NSW government repeatedly, but we are consistently ignored. It is obvious that the NSW government cannot admit that there any dangers in the Gullen Range project without at the same time admitting that it, the NSW government, is itself responsible for these dangers by adopting noise guidelines that are totally inadequate to protect residents.

The NSW Departments of Planning, and Environment (which recommended the noise guidelines) have been incompetent, and cannot admit it. The government would rather leave the local community to suffer.

7. The Gullen Range Wind Farm started construction last September. The developer is rushing on, and has constructed the footings for one of the four sections of the site. We expect turbines to start going up this month. The developer states that it expects to finish construction by the end of the year, and for the wind farm to be commissioned in early 2014.

8. The Gullen Range Wind Farm is a disaster waiting to happen.

9. The Fairfax press is hostile to us, as I know from e-mail correspondence with the letters editor, and the environment editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Australian has a more sympathetic stance to wind farm neighbours, but is more interested in the economics, electricity generation, and greenhouse gas emissions than in noise and health effects.

Note: Gullen Range developer Goldwind has close ties to the University of Sydney.Wu

CEO of Goldwind, Wu Gang.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. As a scholar of cultural engineering, I found this post to be an excellent description of the issues facing communities in conflict with engineering developments.

  2. Well well well Rob Post – they are doing similar to Charley Barber, Bannister Springs, 177 Prices Lane, Bannister NSW. Charming characters aren’t they? I have let Charley know of your post and I am sure he will contact you.

  3. maureen campbell says:

    This is just a bloody disgrace. Where are the human rights of these poor people, it just upsets me so much much, that that there are human for this person that person or that animal, don’t get me wrong I would rather have animals than peolpe at this point in time. It’s the same old story why should I bother it’s not in my back yard mate. Grow up Australia it is happening in your back yard. Help peolpe to fight these terrible monsters. Is this what is in store for our children and granchildren. Can imagine if this was happening in Sydney they would be screaming like stuffed pigs. Come listen to the people of the rural ares and help them all.
    Maureen C

  4. The State Govt and the DoP have no intention of stopping wind farms being built.Why would they as they all reside in the city and wind farms are only built in rural NSW. They consider us to be whingers but their day will come, hopefully when they end up in Court being sued by non turbine hosts with ill health. I wonder what the landscapes will look like to future generations when they see all the rotting wind turbines that no-one was responsible for removing. Wake up Pollies before it is too late. People are crying out for help and you are not listening. Just remember who voted for you, they may not at the next election. Australia used to be a democracy, not now. There is no place for W.T’s in densely populated rural Australia and definately no place for the developers.
    Mausie

  5. How many locals are building the wind farm and how many are Chinese cheap labour? Goldwind is a company to stay away from!

  6. There is still time for some hosts associated with the Gullen Range windfarm to withdraw for a common good! You people may think you were doing the enviromental thing and helping global warming problem, but there is real concerns for health.If you feel trapped because you have taken money already don’t be, as a community we could all help if you guys could only understand the way we all feel! One last thing have you people considered the legacy you will leave and the burden left behind for your family for generations to come!!!!!!!

  7. Sue Robinson says:

    In addition to the significant health impact and disruption to the peaceful enjoyment of our properties, we also have to contend with the significant depreciation in the value of our property which seriously limits our options in regard to staying or moving. The Australian and NSW governments should be protecting the health and investments of Australian citizens rather than supporting the wanton destruction of our rural landscape and our primary industry activities by these Chinese companies that have no care or concern for Australia except getting their hands on Australian money in the form of carbon credits. What a joke we are!!!!

    Unfortunately this is now a ‘done deal’ and therefore the only sensible thing that can be done is for the affected residents surrounding Gullen Range to be appropriately compensated by this company for our existing and foreseeable future losses to enable us to relocate to avoid the inevitable environmental and health impact. In the absence of any protection to date from the NSW government for affected residents it is clearly the primary responsibility of the NSW government now to ensure such compensation is paid by this company and that it is of a reasonable level. We are voters too and we deserve government representation just as much as the city dwellers do and we expect no less than immediate government action on this matter. There is a good reason why these turbines are never located in and around urban centres – no government would survive the resulting outrage – so why do we have to put up with them? It is time the government took rural voters seriously.

  8. Agree with all of the above but will add how utterly selfish the wind farm hosts are being to the community, their neighbours and to the environment. Obviously, even though they are farmers who should care for and nurture their land for later generations they care not for the environment or for the community, or for their neighbours. It’s all about how much money they can squeeze onto their hip pocket nerve. All for what? Greed and utter selfishness. Again, I repeat, it’s the ‘I’m alright mate, bugger the rest of you’ syndrome fully at play. Irretrievable damage for future generations to inherit will be the legacy they leave when they are pushing up the daisies.

  9. Like here in Ontario Canada we all KNOW that Wind Turbines are nothing more than a fraudulent scam to steal $$$ from people’s pockets!!!!…….it’s that simple. The disaster is that OUR publicly funded Politicians are part of this massive :swindle”!

  10. David Brooks, Chair, Parkesbourne/Mummel Landscape Guardians Inc. says:

    A few more facts illustrating the absurdity of the Gullen Range Wind Farm project, and the failure of the NSW Department of Planning.

    1. The original developer Epuron submitted a development application in 2008, in which 24 different turbine types were listed as “under consideration”. Epuron blandly stated that it had not decided which turbine type to use. So, although the precise dimensions of the turbines and their impacts remained unknown, the Minister for Planning approved the project (in 2009), with the proviso that when the turbine type to be used had been selected, a final noise assessment should be carried out, and submitted “prior to commissioning”. This was re-confirmed by the Land & Environment Court in 2010.

    2. At the beginning of 2011 the project was sold by Epuron to the Chinese multi-national Goldwind. Goldwind is going to use its own turbines. None of Goldwinds’ turbines is listed among the 24 turbine types listed by Epuron in the original development application.

    3. Goldwind has stated that the total capacity of the wind farm is now to be 165 MW, and that it
    intends to use a mixture of 1.5 MW and 2.5 MW turbines. But it remains unknown which turbines on the site are to be 1.5 MW, and which are to be 2.5 MW.

    4. Goldwind turbines can have different tower heights and blade lengths. So, even though we know that 1.5 MW and 2.5 MW turbines will be used, we do not know what their tower height and blade length will be.

    5. This situation is made even more absurd and outrageous by the fact that the developer has sent a letter to some neighbours soliciting a noise agreement to increase the noise limit from 35 dBA to 45 dBA, because the developer wants to increase the length of the turbine blades from 43 metres to 48 metres. Whether any of the turbines will have the longer blades remains unknown.

    6. So far as we know, Goldwind has not submitted a final noise assessment to the Department of Planning (so says the Department of Planning). Nor has it submitted a modification application to change the length of the blades.

    7. Conversations with DoP officials suggest that the DoP would only require a modification application if the capacity of the turbines were to be higher than the capacity range given in the original development application. But a modification application would probably not be required if the height of the turbines, or the length of the blades is increased. This ignores the now demonstrated fact that an increase in the height of the turbines will make the sound emission more predominantly low frequency. It is, of course, low frequency noise and infrasound that are causing everyone’s problems, and which are not measured under the noise guidelines.

    8. So, to sum up: the Gullen Range Wind Farm is being built, without any noise assessment being in the public domain for the actual turbines that are going to be used, and even though its precise dimensions, and its likely impacts have not been assessed. With whatever other kind of infrastructure development could this be allowed?

    9. The wind farm will almost certainly be built before that final noise assessment is submitted to the DoP. If there are any problems with the final noise assessment, does anyone believe that the DoP will order Goldwind to remove turbines?

    10. This is obviously gross and blatant incompetence on the part of the NSW Department of Planning. We have pointed out these absurdities to the NSW government innumerable times, and we have been ignored.

    11. So, litigation is the only way to go.

    • Rob POST says:

      I had a visit from Goldwind Representatives last Thursday, Friday and again today. They were kind enough to point out the turbines within about 1.5km of my adjoining property, the fact the 11KV power line going through my property and beside my house were to be taken down and upgraded for the project and that crown land I lease would be used for underground cabling. This was the first I had heard of any of this and the first time I had been consulted. And only because they are now seeking access to my property. Amazing.
      Only course open to me I believe is litigation.

      Rob POST

  11. A couple of weeks ago, on the Big Pond face page there was the quote of the day. it said ” if you can’t think of what you were worrying about this time last year it wasn’t worth worrying about.” My answer to that would be, this time last year, I was worried about Bloody Wind Turbines ruining everyones life’s around here and on this date the year before and the same date the bloody year before and the same bloody date the year before and the same date the year before that in fact, 24/7 for the past nearly 10 years.For the benefit of Politicians and the sleezes and low life oxygen thieves in the Wind Turbine Industry I am allready sick. Sick to death of the lies, the deception, the threats , and the intimidation,the rebutal of scientic evidence, the refusal of the Government to consider us as human beings, and to use us as cannon fodder for the Wind Turbine Industry. We are being tortured. We unlike the Politicians learnt about these things a long time ago. In the late 80’s I drove past hundreds of dead Wind Turbines in California . With my engineering background it wasn’t hard to work out that Wind Turbines are a nonesense, and a criminal waste of Taxpayers money.In the early 1800’s every scientist and every engineer worked day and night to figure out how to put steam into ships, they wanted to go when and where they wished and not wait for the Wind. They were sick of sitting out in the middle of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific for weeks at a time, in the doldrums, and on arriving to Australian shores to be dashed on the rocks because of no wind or the wind changing., at the wrong time.The hundreds of ship wrecks along the southern mainland attest to this. And now brain dead Politicians in the year 2013 think that the wind is going to save us.

    • Harry Makris says:

      Exactly Jim…..Exactly……!!
      ………….One Hell of a ship wreck this business is…
      ….let’s hope there is something to salvage…..

      Take care…

  12. Jackie Rovensky says:

    One thing these people need to get into their heads is that the NHMRC Rapid Review has been castigated as a useless piece of nothing. Secondly that is was not a scientific research project into Health Effects, it was a review of literature only, and they conveniently missed a lot of relevant literature.
    The NHMRC is undertaking a new review – hopefully this one will be far more inclusive and independent.
    Also there is the EPA noise monitoring going to take place here at Waterloo in SA. When this work has been concluded and the results are published I personally have no doubt it will prove these projects are producing noise levels exceeding currently allowable limits as well as noise ‘types’ that are not currently regulated for.
    Hopefully then it will open the eyes and ears of those Politicians both state and federal enough to call a moratorium on all projects UINTIL the Scientific Health and related research has been conducted. Maybe – hopefully it will be in time to stop the construction and commissioning of the project near you.
    It may even be a good idea to write to ALL NSW politicians informing them of the EPA monitoring to take place here and ask them to put a hold on the project at least until the results are known. Anything to pressure them is worthwhile. There will be some MP’s in parliament who want to support you, you just have to get them to come forward and speak out, and offer support.
    Good luck, and never give up the fight.

  13. genie81 says:

    Yet again the Government ignores experts worldwide and their peer-reviewed evidence along with researchers and acousticians who are voicing their concerns over industrial wind turbines. Does not matter to polticians as they do not reside near wind farms and people who host have signed contracts with ‘gag’ clauses with threats of legal action if they say anything negative. I hope when the acknowlegded proof of the damage the WTs cause that all the hurt people sue the government with a class action. We are as Mr. C. Hartcher (NSW) says we are policy road kill. Too bad that we are entitled to a good night’s sleep. Try that when you have blades whooshing and thumping, along with vibrations all denied by the wind industry especially over infrasound.

  14. When all legal avenues of appeal are exhausted, there are still options…it depends how deeply you feel on the matter…these range from non-violent civil disobedience to defending your freedom with whatever means are justified.

  15. Jennifer Price-Jones says:

    A straight forward appraisal of the problems we are facing in the Gullen Range area and indeed the NSW Southern Tablelands generally. We desperately need some help before this thickly populated , rich farming/grazing rural area is despoilt.

    Well done correspondent in the field!

  16. John Carter says:

    This is a disaster . Apart from the huge subsidies required from taxpayers and electricity users these inland turbines are hopelessly inefficient.Crookwell 1 is operating at 12% efficiency.I live beside( 2kms) the Government built (1998) Crookwell1..Both my wife and I have contracted immune system diseases very uncommon in our age group.. We believe it is from infrasound from the small( 8 turbine farm). Heaven help those near theGullen Range.

  17. Harry Makris says:

    Absolute Disgrace given the current Knowledge..

    …..I am currently preparing a letter to be sent to Every Member of Federal Parliament …Both sides…Both Houses…together with Every State Governor and the Governor General…..This disquiet must be arrested before the Citizens start talking about Seceding…….as they have in Keyneton….They then can’t say they didn’t Know……

    (Extract)
    …….Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the “consent” of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,….. and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them, shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness……….

    …………..experience has shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed………

    …………., it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

  18. I RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE. The Gullen Range Wind farm is not a disaster waiting to happen. It is, pure and simply, a disaster. No ifs, ands, or buts. The important thing is to follow the money. That way, it will become apparent why the NSW government is willing to advance the misery of its constituents.

    • Andreas Marciniak says:

      And I agree with you on this, The 73 Gullen Range Wind Turbines, are a Disaster, if they stared to build, then the Disaster is up and running, and it will get worse and worse and after they start the Turbines, that will be the end to Life as you used to know it, as a Wind Turbine refugee from Waterloo I do know what is coming your way, and I’m sorry for what is about to happen to all Within 5 km, there are about 240 non-involved residences.and as I see it you will be adding on to the list people as far out as 10 km, so you might be looking at hundreds more just like in Waterloo.

  19. Grant Winberg says:

    Let us cut to the chase. Gullen Range is an outstanding example of the NSW Department of Planning’s road kill sacrifice mentality. The previous NSW Labor Govt is equally culpable. And the current NSW Liberal/National Coalition Govt is about to prove itself of being equally culpable by doing absolutely nothing to protect the impacted residents. The number of proximate non host familes is large (but the number should be irrelevant). The NSW Govt can’t hide behind ‘retrospectivity’. Govt’s have proved many times that they are prepared to cancel projects and foot the cost if it is the sensible thing to do (even when it’s not). Premier O’Farrell, this is your opportunity to prove to the NSW electorate that you have the gumption to realise the Gullen Range project is a disaster, should not proceed and act now, today and call a halt.

    • We have been fighting these useless ways of generating electricity for nearly 10 years. We have a property near Crookwell and it used to be a delight to come down and stay and listen to the birds and enjoy the peaceful environment. Now, we are fighting with neighbours who are all gung ho for them. It seems to me that with all the detrimental effects such as health, bird strikes, non aerial support for fighting fires and a host of other problems including our power bills sky rocketing due to renewable targets and subsidies, we do not need Gullen Range wind farm at all. All governments need to listen to the people who are most affected. Unfortunately, non are

Trackbacks

  1. […] last year that the Gullen Range wind farm in NSW was a disaster waiting to happen (see our post here) and it seems that we were on the […]

  2. […] Reuters piece, of course, over looks the Gullen Range disaster where the Chinese made turbines are being assembled as we […]

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