The Battle for the Western Districts of Victoria is on

western districts

Almost Heaven – the Western Districts.

The Western Districts of Victoria is among the most productive and fertile grazing and agricultural territory in Australia.  In a good year – and there are plenty of those – it rains for nine months of the year and drips off the trees for the rest.  Set on deep, volcanic soils, the country around Port Fairy, Hawkesdale, Penshurst, Dundonnell, Willatook, Mount Fyans and Hexham supports cropping, high-density, fine Merino wool production, top-notch beef cattle and – closer to the coast – dairying.

Set upon by monsters like AGL (aka Australia’s Greatest Liars) RES, Pac Hydro & Co, the farmers and townsfolk of the Western District are all set to die in a ditch to protect their territory from anymore giant fans.

Macarthur is a disaster zone with something like 30 farming households being driven nuts by low-frequency noise and infra-sound from AGL’s 140 Vestas V112s, night after merciless night.

Macarthur

A few of the culprits at AGL’s non-compliant Macarthur operation.

STT is prepared to go out on a limb and assert that for there to be productive agriculture the country needs to be populated with productive farmers.

If our farmers are being belted night after night with incessant low-frequency noise from giant fans there’s a fair chance that they won’t be as keen to bounce out of bed and slog it out as rural producers for the 10 or 12 hours needed each day to keep their shows afloat. None of us expect to perform to the best of our ability if we’ve been deprived of a decent night’s sleep (see our post here).

Worse still – if the homes they operate from become uninhabitable (as has occurred at Toora, Waubra, Waterloo and elsewhere) – farming families will simply pack up and leave their properties. 11 farming families have abandoned perfectly good homes at Waubra, alone (see our post here).

At Macarthur several highly productive family farming operations are so severely impacted by turbine noise that they routinely seek respite away from their properties and the district for several days each fortnight just to gain some meaningful, quality sleep and recharge their batteries.

That means that they’re not on their properties where they would ordinarily be tending to livestock and otherwise seeing to the effective management of their properties.  In those circumstances, something’s got to give – and it’s the productivity of the family farming operation and, therefore, its long-term economic viability.

Wind farms, so called, are not “farms” at all – but rather end up displacing real farms with industrial zones incompatible with human habitation.  “Industrial wind factories” is a far better tag.

wind turbines

More “Orwellian nightmare” – than bucolic, pastoral scene.

STT uses the term “wind farm” principally because it’s the enemy’s language and is the most likely term used by people in a Google search.  Because we pepper our stories and our search “tags” with it – there’s a pretty good chance that anyone searching using that term will come across this site and take a peek.  Who knows, they might even learn something?

Australia has a choice – it can have productive agriculture – producing something for which there is a ready market – or we can displace it with something that occasionally supplies a product that no one in their right mind would sign up to buy – and which would never get sold at all without the mandatory Renewable Energy Target – which forces retailers to purchase the product on pain of a fine: ie the “shortfall charge” – currently set at $65 per MW/h (see our post here).

STT thinks the “choice” is a “no-brainer” – let’s can the fans and give Australia’s farmers and their families a fair go. Australia’s future (and historical) welfare is (and was) entirely bound up in maintaining productive agriculture NOT in throwing $billions in REC tax at “feel good” renewable boondoggles like economically unsustainable wind power. Productive agriculture requires productive farmers.

In the Western District the battle is on to maintain a system that has sustained thousands at the pointy end of production (the people with sheep and cow shit on their boots) and hundreds of thousands in upstream employment – think cheese-makers at the company everyone wants a piece of at the minute – Warnambool Cheese & Butter.

A growing number of warriors from towns neighbouring Macarthur are keen to avoid the same tragedy seen there and are revving up their efforts to prevent a repeat.

Here’s the Warrnambool Standard’s take on the battle for the Western Districts.

South-west in front line of wind war
The Standard
Sean McComish
4 January 2014

Premier Denis Napthine has thrown his support behind wind turbines.

IT’s an unusually warm day in April and the Premier and local MP Denis Napthine has just told a packed marquee that he loves wind farms.

Those in the tent are the who’s who of the wind industry — bosses from energy and climate groups, land owners, reporters and staffers who have been flown in for the official ribbon-cutting of the Macarthur wind farm.

But outside the ceremony at a side gate, a small group of protesters want to see the turbines switched off and other planned turbines scrapped all together.

Some are locals, others are protesters from other states armed with placards about health effects or dead eagles.

It might not be apparent in Warrnambool but the south-west is very much a part of the ideological and economic battleground over green energy.

Get into the debate and it’s a rough issue with two sides unafraid of bruises.

Both sides of the wind debate are holding their breath until a federal review into the renewable energy target (RET) decides on the 20 per cent national green energy goal by 2020.

There are roughly 230 turbines spinning across the region. Another 300 have permits to go ahead but construction has only started on several. More than 600 proposed turbines have no permits at all, pending environmental approvals or planning.

Those in the pipeline will hinge on the RET staying in place.

Communities near Port Fairy, Hawkesdale, Penshurst, Dundonnell, Willatook, Mount Fyans and Hexham could all be affected by the outcome.

Developers have some reason to be nervous. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has signalled change is on the way, arguing the green target is leading to higher power costs.

“We’ve got to accept though, that in the changed circumstances of today, the renewable energy target is causing pretty significant price pressure in the system and we ought to be … an affordable energy superpower,” Mr Abbott said.

His chief business adviser Maurice Newman also wants the RET scrapped.

There’s another headache.

The government is going to investigate health problems reported by wind farm locals.

While a date isn’t set, a spokesman for Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane told The Standard the review is certain to kick off early this year and will probably be undertaken by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). If the NHMRC does investigate, its findings will probably be dismissed by wind opponents who claim the body just reviews what’s already written and known.

Opponents want a full panel of doctors and acousticians to investigate instead.

Moyne Shire is already investigating health claims from residents around Macarthur under its own local health and well-being act after a tense meeting between locals and councillors in September.

Energy and major projects officer Russell Guest said council health officers have interviewed 13 residents and would interview another nine before a report is handed to councillors in March.

Wind developers hoping to build in the south-west face hurdles from councils and the state and federal governments.

Councils like Moyne Shire want rock-solid guarantees their roads won’t be pulverised during construction. The Victorian government has heavy planning restrictions on how close turbines can be to homes and Canberra holds the purse strings on green energy credits and policies that make them viable.

If state Labor wins power in November it has promised to scrap a Coalition law giving land owners power to veto turbines within two kilometres of their homes.

And then there’s Portland.

If anyone stands to lose from fewer wind farms it’s 150 tower workers at Keppel Prince, already embroiled in a battle against cheap imports from China and Korea.

If orders for towers decline any more, families and the broader Portland economy could suffer.

Premier Denis Napthine has made his position clear. He’s sided with the tower jobs and doesn’t believe the turbines are behind health problems.

But he won’t change his government’s setback laws.

Construction is under way at several wind farms. Portland and Mortlake South will both take shape soon but there are more than 1000 turbines across Victoria with planning permits going nowhere.

Wannon MP Dan Tehan has cleverly walked a fine line. He supports Keppel Prince but has effectively deferred any opinion on health impacts until a federal study has been completed.

In the meantime wind opponents count him as an ally. Economic decisions on the RET and whether turbines deserve to be taxpayer-subsidised are more likely to decide if the towers go up than anything else.

For now, don’t expect to see any ribbon-cutting anytime soon.
The Standard

Well done Sean.

STT thinks that Sean’s little piece deserves a very solid finger clap from the entire class.  You see, Sean copped a little pasting from STT a while back for terming the statements made – at a meeting with their local Council – by the dozens of AGL’s and Vestas’ victims at Macarthur about the chronic noise impacts on them and their young families “bizarre”.

STT had a pretty fair crack at Sean’s naïveté and obvious willingness to accept, without question, the twaddle dished up by AGL and the Clean Energy Council and all of the other parasites that gorge at the wind industry trough (see our post here).

We hear that The Standard was none too pleased about the line STT took.  As they say down at the Engineering Department: “build a bridge and get over it”.  And, it would seem, that Sean has.

The piece above demonstrates the kind of evenhandedness which was clearly lacking when he branded first-hand, clearly genuine and obviously tragic tales of human suffering as “bizarre” – facts laid out by 90 individuals – all in strangely similar terms.  Funny about that.

****

****

The piece above is not a bad start, Sean – keep it up.  Who knows?  One day soon you’ll get on top of the REAL facts and pen a piece that helps expose the greatest economic and environmental fraud Australia has ever seen.  We’ll repost it in a heartbeat.

Sean might start by following the thread laid out by Victorian Senator John “Marshall” Madigan on the rampant corruption within the Victorian government – corruption deliberately designed to deflect proper scrutiny of wind farm operators like Acciona (Waubra), Pac Hydro (Cape Bridgewater) and AGL (Macarthur) that are in flagrant breach of the noise conditions of their planning consents – which in turn means they should not be receiving Renewable Energy Certificates (see our post here).

So far these outfits have (unlawfully) received over $120 million worth of RECs between them – and the Victorian government knows it.

Now there’s a story.  So Sean, why not give the Marshall a call?  His number’s in the book.

John Madigan

John “Marshall” Madigan – ready & waiting to take Sean’s call.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. There’s a simple solution to potentially dubious claims made by Wind Farm consortiums and Govt approvers. If they are so confident that their noise and health effect estimates are correct and their claims that there will be no health impacts as a result of their wind farm implementations, then they should have no problem signing a contract with potentially affected parties prior to commissioning which requires them to later buy out affected parties at market rates if their estimates are subsequently found to be incorrect at any time in the future.

    • The wind industry’s ‘business’ model wouldn’t survive paying the full cost of its negative impacts on property rights. It knows it, and so do those in government that help them avoid responsibility to their victims.

  2. Also in the Macarthur vicinity – Ryan Corner, 67 2MW turbines and Hawkesdale, 31 2MW turbines – both approved with first stage works completed and Tarrone, 20 2MW turbines is in the approval process.
    In South West Victoria, closer to Geelong, all approved with first stage works completed – Berrybank, 89 2MW turbines; Winchelsea/Mt Pollock, 14 2MW turbines; Mortlake, 51 2MW turbines and Mt Gellibrand, 63 3MW turbines. In the approval process are Darlington, 80 4-4.5MW turbines; Dundonnell, 104 3MW turbines and Wingeel 80 turbines. MET masts/feasibility sights are at Barunah Plains and Cressy.
    That’s another 599 turbines between Geelong and Hamilton and there are plenty more further west toward South Australia.

  3. Keith Staff says:

    All should now be aware of the “cumulative” impacts of monster Industrial Wind Energy Facilities [IWEF] – They are not wind farms.

    In our area alone, Penshurst, there are proposals for 223 Turbines, —
    Which will adjoin the operating Macarthur IWEF, of 140 turbines, — which will adjoin the Willatook IWEF with another 150 turbines proposed.

    It will be environmental vandalism on a massive scale. Proponents will knowingly destroy families lives, drastically reduce property values and turn the area into an industrial wasteland. It is criminal intent with next to useless Shire councils and complicit agencies involved, while lazy Politicians just watch and do nothing.

  4. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    The complete destruction of districts of all states is the agenda behind this industry. If you are anywhere near the Grid, it’s a safe bet you will receive turbines as neighbours.

    There are more people looking at having to leave their homes, employment, livelihoods throughout this country than the 150 casuals at Keppel Prince.

    The lack of duty of care shown by the Victorian Liberals indicates there is something more behind an inept ability to understand the false claims made by the industry and its supporters.

    That inept ability is also shown here in SA, with a Premier who finds it impossible to believe, or even accept the possibility this industry isn’t capable of being sustainable, productive and safe. With ‘Leaders” such as these it’s easy to understand how the industry has been able to blind its supporters for years.

    To see you have to open your eyes to all, to hear you have to be willing to listen to all, to be a good leader you have to be willing to accept what you don’t want to believe and act on what is right, not what you want to be right. To achieve this capability you have to be willing to see and listen to all.

  5. Windshift says:

    There is more to come in the Western District. Several other wind projects have been approved including Origin Energy’s monster 157 turbine Stockyard Hill Project located between Beaufort and Skipton in a closely settled area including many soldier settlement blocks.

    Planning panels do not require sworn evidence, so if a witness is so inclined and the money is good enough, then porkies go unremarked and even Origin’s barrister opened the panel proceedings by saying in relation to health problems “there is not a skerrick of evidence that…..etc” when of course there was.

    Origin’s noise expert predicted noise levels based upon using 2MW turbines and claimed the layout of the turbines met the existing guidelines for noise. What they did not mention was that virtually all other wind projects built to meet these guidelines caused extreme health problems for neighbours, that infrasound and low frequency sound were known to be a problem as early as the 1980s, but were not limited or even acknowledged in the guidelines. A perfect example of (pick one or more): incompetence, being economical with the truth, or deceptive for purpose.

    There is plenty of evidence that Origin is planning much larger turbines, up to 3.5MW but no evidence that the noise predictions will be reworked and the layout reconfigured. The responsible authorities remain determinedly mute on this matter.

    Stockyard Hill combines the worst features of The Waubra (upsized turbines) and MacArthur (number of large turbines) projects. It will show all the characteristics of a 450 square km impacted area. Another example of Big Wind’s greed for guaranteed profits at the cruel expense of country Australians, whilst pretending there is no problem and that they are saving the planet.

  6. Sonia Trist says:

    Totally agree with STT.
    Go for it Sean McComish.
    Contact Senator John Madigan and discuss the heart of this matter.
    Take pride in your journalism.

    Receptor Locator 63.. Cape Bridgewater… Or in human parlance..Sonia Trist.

  7. Stand against wind says:

    Congratulations to Sean, a great synopsis of the situation and very useful for people throughout Australia, would you consider moving to Qld, we could do with some decent journos up here!

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: