The “Squirrel Grip”: Stockyard Hill Style

From the battle hardened members of STT we know that you are wasting your breath when you spend time trying to talk sense into State Governments, their Planning Departments and EPAs – sure enough they make decisions that ruin many a great community, but they ain’t “the money” – that all comes out of Canberra in a torrent of RECs.

Lately we’ve been going hard on the Federal Coalition with the hope of pulling the greatest fraud of all time to a halt by turning off the REC tap come September. But don’t forget the bottom of the gene pool – the turbine host. Without them, there wouldn’t be a wind turbine anywhere.

squirrel grip

So with a view to helping wind warriors around the Country hit ’em from both ends – top and bottom – champion wind warrior, Andy Gabb has given STT permission to publish the letter sent to 40 potential hosts at Stockyard Hill.

Andy is not only putting the wind up neighbours ready to sell their souls to big wind, he’s a big supporter of the National Rally set for June 18 in Canberra. As rugby players might put it: Andy’s laying a mighty squirrel grip on the wind industry. Although not wholly familiar with that code, STT believes it to be pretty painful – especially when delivered Stockyard Hill style.

Ouch!

Stockyard Guardians

23rd April 2013

Dear Landholder and Turbine Host, 

It is now well known in the community that Origin is attempting to have all hosts of turbines at Stockyard Hill sign up to new agreements on the same date. A move we suspect is designed to make the lease administration more logistically manageable, and hence more attractive to prospective purchasers of the project.

Origin has made it clear that they would prefer to sell the Stockyard Hill Wind Farm [SHWF] and allow a possibly foreign owned company to build and run the project.

An opportunity now presents itself for contracted land holders to review the terms of their agreements with Origin and to seek legal advice on various aspects of these individual arrangements, including any changes proposed by the developer to the lease itself. It is also an opportunity for land holders to re consider their overall position and to decide whether they are prepared to continue to allow their land to be used to build wind turbines on.

It is our suggestion that this is the time for land holders to come to their senses and realise that to proceed with leasing their land to Origin is foolish in the extreme and could lead to unfortunate consequences, particularly becoming defendants in long running and expensive civil litigation in the Victorian courts. Consider the following points.

1.  In the last few years the state of knowledge about the injury caused to people by wind turbines has increased exponentially and many peer reviewed articles by highly qualified people have appeared in professional journals explaining the mechanism of harm. The British Medical Journal last year stated that,

 ‘A large body of evidence now exists to suggest that wind turbines disturb sleep and impair health at distances and external noise levels that are permitted in most jurisdictions.’

 ‘The aerodynamic noise generated by wind turbines has a large low frequency and infrasound component.’

 ‘A laboratory study has shown that low frequency noise is considerably more annoying than higher frequency noise.’

So, it follows that even if a wind farm has complied with the projected noise levels required by law, it still could be causing damage, simply because those planning requirements are clearly insufficient to protect people. In other words wind farms, in the planning stage or presently operating, have not gone through sufficiently rigorous testing and modeling to ensure they will not harm anyone. SHWF falls into this category.

2. Last month VCAT, in the Cherry Tree Range wind farm hearing, refused to grant a permit for a wind farm until the developer could prove there would be no adverse health effects upon neighbours. The tribunal expressly accepted the evidence of witnesses who attested to serious health impacts arising from proximity to operating turbines. The tribunal stated that;

There is evidence before the Tribunal that a number of people living close to wind farms suffer deleterious health effects

The tribunal considered it unsafe to proceed to permit a wind farm when there is so much evidence of harm being caused to people.

3. In Victoria, the current government has determined that turbines should not be placed within 2km of homes. While this is a welcome recognition of the potential for harm there is documented evidence of people suffering impacts well beyond this distance.  The SHWF was permitted before this change to planning law and many houses will be within the current 2km limit. How comfortable do you feel having turbines erected on your land? What if the prevailing winds blow through turbines to a neighbour’s house, and potentially cause untold distress to an innocent family? Would you like to feel responsible for such a situation?

4.  In Australia over two dozen houses, some held by the same family for generations, have been abandoned by their occupants because they are no longer livable due to turbine noise. This problem is not confined to Australia. Across England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, in most states of the USA, and in Canada -countries where turbines are now so  much bigger than those first built in Europe.  Houses are being deserted and complaints are growing daily.  In England this year, 100 members of the House of Commons have banded together to oppose all on shore wind farm proposals, such is the depth of feeling amongst the electorate against new wind farms.

5.  Legal action against land holders is becoming more common and is an inevitable trend. In England a couple whose house had become uninhabitable were successful in achieving a generous financial settlement from the land owner/ turbine operator, and removal of some turbines. The basis of the action was the common law tort of nuisance, which protects property holders from unreasonable interference with the right to peaceful enjoyment of their  land. It is no defense to an action for nuisance to argue that a wind farm has planning permission.

Lease agreements with wind farm land holders do not indemnify the land holder from suffering loss if sued by a neighbour. It might be sensible to ask Origin who will be responsible if legal action results from the operation of their turbines. Legal costs in cases of this kind can quickly enter the six figure range.

At present nuisance actions are being considered at many wind farms across Australia and be assured SHWF will turn out to be no exception. Our group has acquired a state of the art sound measuring device and will be carefully monitoring noise levels should the wind farm be built, with a view to gathering evidence for possible court proceedings.

6.  Currently Origin has planning permission to erect 2 MW turbines, however when it comes time to purchase the machines, technology will have advanced and it will be more efficient to use much larger turbines. This can be permitted under the planning law by way of the secondary consent process. In this way much bigger turbines may be substituted without checks or projections being done on the resulting change in noise levels. You may not even be consulted about this. Larger turbines produce more noise, and a higher percentage of the harmful low frequency or infra sound that has been identified as the source of the health problems.

7.  Councils in some parts of Victoria have accepted reductions in rate valuations for properties visually impacted upon by wind farms. As well in the Federal Magistrates Court last year, a magistrate accepted that if a wind farm were to be erected adjoining the parties land a substantial fall in valuation would occur. Elsewhere the evidence is mounting that proximity to a wind farm can have a deflating impact on land values. What will be the case at SHWF? Will your lease payments compensate for a loss of property value?

8.  The healthy renumeration you anticipate from agreeing to host turbines will not provide immunity against being adversely affected by those turbines. Land holder/hosts of operating wind farms are quietly, and sometimes more loudly, speaking out about the impacts on their family’s lives. Sleeplessness, headaches, irritability are commonly being experienced by hosts, they are just reluctant and sometimes contractually bound not to say anything about this. Yes, some people are not affected, but research in South Australia shows that up to 50% of people living on or near a certain wind farm say that they are impacted upon negatively at different times. Will you and your family be affected? Is it worth the risk?

9.  There has been no determination over which body is responsible for overseeing wind farm planning permit requirements. The government says its the shire, the shire says its the government. If the government has its way the responsibility will fall on the Pyrenees Shire who has maintained all along they do not have the resources or expertise to do the job. Leaving it to the shire could  mean almost totally ineffective supervision of the wind farm, where complaints go un investigated and human suffering is ignored indefinitely. The example of Waubra is most telling about our shire’s incapacity to effectively monitor a large wind farm.

10. An abundance of material is available on the web about the dangers of windfarms.  There is much more to having a wind farm in the district, and turbines on your property, than anyone  ever gave thought to.  You owe it to your family and neighbours to look into it. A large number of professional and responsible web sites act as clearing houses for the avalanche of material that arrives almost daily on the world wide web discussing problems caused by turbines.

Consider better informing yourself by checking out the Australian website

stopthesethings.com

Andrew Gabb

Chairman of Stockyardhill Community Guardians

 

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this superb blog!
    I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to new updates and will share this website with my Facebook group.

    Talk soon!

  2. I believe that potential hosts at the Tuki Wind Farm were sent letters stating that they would be held accountable for any loss and damage incurred by surrounding neighbours. This action by The Spa Country Guardians made it clear to proponents and hosts that they would be relentless in opposition to this risk to neighbours health and well being. The proposal went away!!!
    James

  3. After all that’s happened in the last few years since buckle, newbold and co signed up these farmers wouldn’t you think they would change their minds?
    If they don’t change their mind and renege on the lease renewal then they deserve to be sued and called hicks for the rest of their days. Knowing some of them I would wonder if they would have the ability to do this.

  4. The Callous Wind says:

    To be perfectly honest, Andy and the Stockyard Hill Guardians, I think you are being too soft on the hosts. You need to do, as was done here with the Ceres Project, employ a good lawyer and send them letters, threatening them with legal action. Let them know, if the wind farm goes ahead and it causes problems and it seems that most wind farms are causing problems, the neighbours will have no hesitation in suing the hosts.

    You have the added advantage, that your hosts have not signed yet, not the new agreements anyway, I am not sure if they have already signed agreements, but it just might be enough to stop them signing the new ones.. The hosts here had already signed, but I know for sure, that if the letters had gone out before, some of the hosts would not have signed and that would have been the end of the Ceres Project.

  5. This excellent advice should be given to all host farmers, and potential host farmers. It is definitely a losing proposition.

  6. Well written, all hosts & potential hosts should be sent a letter like the above letter. The wind companys don’t care about the hosts either, once the wind turbines are up & running.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The “Squirrel Grip”: Stockyard Hill Style. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: