The huff and puff of the NSW Farmers’ wind guide

The Editor,
The Land Newspaper

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.

turbine baseImmediately 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.

turbine base1Hosts 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.

Dr. Colleen Watts OAM
“Highfield”,
Carcoar NSW 2791

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. I find it really odd that farmers are signing up for turbines, given the politics of most of them.
    The NSW farmers have campaigned against the greens and labor, but here they are activly supporting them.
    Farmers generally are not in favor of government handouts to industries, including their own, but here they are taking them.
    Farmers are usually cautious, but there acceptance of turbines offered to them by shelf companies with little more than $1 paid up capital defies logic.

  2. Randall Bell says:

    A couple of year ago I spoke to a family at my house who lived at Cape Bridgewater near the wind farm. In fact we had a bbq. He told me that he was the only Australian employed in the construction phase of the Portland Wind Power Plant, the rest were from Ireland flown in on 3 week rosters.
    Minister Delahunty claimed there would be 2000 jobs in construction, full time, part time, and ‘sometime’. They never eventuated.
    Randall Bell.

  3. You are doing a fantastic job whoever you are.

    Regards

    Randall J. Bell LLB

    RANDALL BELL Lawyer

    L4, 117 Myers Street Geelong

    Box 292 Geelong 3220

    T – 0352217955

    F – 0352213238

    Limited liability by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation

  4. Jackie Rovensky says:

    Last night we watched a program about the Air cranes and the helicopters we here call the ‘Elvis’, which are used to fight fires. While the program was not about Industrial Wind Energy projects, it did have a segmont on these machines fighting fires in Sardinia. Very interesting, especially when one of the highly trained pilots spoke about how tiring for pilots it is to fight these fires, including where there are industrial turbines, because of everything they have to watch for, even though they have ground support that information is not always ‘spot on’ because the ground assistance doesn’t always know the conditions in the air. A difficult job made even worse when turbines are an added danger.
    GHD was the company employed by Acciona for tthe now debunked Allendale East project. This was in 2008 if not before. That was when Acionna and GHD had a meeting with the CEO and a Council Official, stating Council would be supportive. Mind you Acciona had already been speaking with landowners as least a year before, and had put in their application to the EPBC, in July 2007 and received the OK from them in August 2007. I doubt if anyone new what was going and if they did that they could watch for it going up on the EPBC site calling for comments. All done with such secracy no one had the chance to object before the proposal was given to Council, and they didn’t even go out to see what the community thought about it, just continued to negotiate with Acciona.
    Would a book help, only if landholders are willing to read it and seek independent advice, unfortunately it all seems to hard for some, so signing up and pretending all is well is the easiest thing, for others who do not live on their property or are willing to leave it the money appears to solve all their problems. Yes it could be useful but only if it is not this one, but one prepared by independent people with information from all sides if lists of places to seek more information and ideas of how they can seek out further information from all sides.
    At least then if they sign up and find them selves in court when neighbours fight for their rights they cannot say they didn’t know.

    Jackie

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