Energy Australia pulls the plug on Robertstown wind farm project

Great news for the tight little South Australian farming communities of Robertstown and Point Pass as Energy Australia pulls the plug on its plans to slam 40 giant fans into the heart of highly productive farming and grazing territory in SA’s Mid-North.

Here’s the story – as told by STT Champion, Mary Morris:

Colin & Mary

Colin Schaefer and Mary Morris celebrate a victory for common sense.

Colin Schaefer (Brady Creek) and Mary Morris (Buchanan) give the thumbs up to Australian Radio Towers workers as they dismantle an Energy Australia wind monitoring mast near Point Pass in the Mid North of South Australia.

Roberstown tower

Going, going …

****

This wind monitoring mast for the proposed Robertstown wind farm was taken down today by contractors under direction from Energy Australia. It was erected in 2009, a mere 500 m from a neighbouring farm house and close to the township of Point Pass and dozens of hobby farms and lifestyle blocks.

A second tower will be removed tomorrow near Inspiration Point, west of the township of Robertstown.

Initially local landowners were supportive when invited to take part in the project in 2005. However, local opposition to the proposed wind farm took off in late 2010, when the nearby Waterloo wind farm started operating and landowners who had signed up for Robertstown wind farm realised they could hear and feel noise and vibration from 8 km away.

Nine of the fourteen contracted Robertstown landowners believe they were misled about the impacts of the wind farm – especially noise – and no longer want to be part of the project. Colin Schaefer (pictured) was one of the contracted landowners who changed his mind when Waterloo wind farm started operating. He had worked on the construction at Waterloo and thought it was great idea – until the turbines started turning and his sleep was frequently disturbed.

A petition with 345 local signatures against any more turbines being built in the area south of Burra was presented to Energy Australia at a public information session at Marrabel in May 2012.

At the site today, Mary Morris thanked Clint Purkiss (Energy Australia) for removing the mast and asked him for his reasons for doing so. He replied “it’s fair to say, we listened”.

Mary Morris
14 April 2014

Robertstown tower 2

…. gone!

****

And here’s a Channel 7 News report on the victory:

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Truth be told, a whole host of factors lined up to kill off the project.

In the end, Energy Australia didn’t have the land-holder agreements it needed to make the project viable.

One local farmer and grazier, Jim Dunstan (seen in the Channel 7 report) bought out a substantial property where the former owner had signed a land-holder agreement and was set to host a large number of turbines for Energy Australia. Jim managed to get rid of the contract, which meant the developer immediately lost the ability to erect a substantial part of its planned project. Nice work Jim!

Jim Dunstan is an avid environmentalist with a burning passion for Australia’s native birds and animals. He’s campaigned for years to keep a raft of planned giant fans from being built on the hills behind Robertstown – that would run North to Stony Gap and Burra – in order to prevent the destruction of the last-remaining habitat of the critically endangered Pygmy Blue-Tongue lizard (see below) – as well as to avoid having his many feathered friends sliced and diced by giant fans. So this retreat must be a doubly sweet victory for him.

pygmy blue tongue

No longer threatened by bulldozers, another local breathes a sigh of relief.

****

And, of course, the economics have caught up with wind power. Built and maintained on the mandatory Renewable Energy Target and the steady stream of Renewable Energy Certificates – that have been driving up retail power prices and upon which the whole fiasco critically depends – the wind industry is facing the very real prospect of the subsidy trough drying up quite a bit sooner than it budgeted on.

The RET Review will almost certainly spell the end of the current 41,000 GW/h annual target. On current forecasts showing declining demand, that figure will end up with renewables notionally supplying more than 27% of total demand. Demand for sparks has fallen in the last few years – and will continue to fall – as industry, minerals processors and manufacturers – belted by escalating power costs – shut their doors and bolt for cheaper places to operate overseas. The target was meant to be 20% by 2020 – so there can no justification for the current figure.

The Panel in charge of the review are all keen advocates of real (ie stand its own 2 feet) business and the Coalition have made plain their avid dislike of corporate welfare – which is precisely what the RET/REC scheme reduces to – as Angus “the Enforcer” Taylor put it: “corporate welfare on steroids”.

Energy Australia would not have secured a Power Purchase Agreement for its Robertstown project – in the absence of which it will never secure the finance to build.

In the end, the decision to drop the project was probably more about avoiding throwing good money after bad – than about “listening” to locals. But, whatever killed it, the locals are over the Moon.

Mary-Morris

Mary Morris: one very happy camper!

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Martin Hayles says:

    Great stuff Mary and Jim and all you ‘mid- northers’.
    Having met you both and others, I consider that your integrity and down-to-earth country-ness has won the day.
    Unfortunately, my cynicism is not so easy to convince.

    These bastards did not leave because you won the day, not because they “listened”, but more so, because they can see the ‘writing on the wall’.

    These wind developers are firstly bullies, but like any bully, when their bluff is called they will quickly revert to what they always were, cowards.

    Their cowardice has always been, up ’til this point, assuaged by acquiescent, corrupt governance and planning departments who due to self-interest, do their masters bidding.

    It is terrible that the people from your region have had your “Waterloo”, but it has been the genesis of your great fight.
    Your real life experience has taught you to never give in.
    Unfortunately, here on Yorkes we have not had that experience and therefore so many people continue to live in blissful ignorance.

    This is not to say we have not put up a great fight, as we have, but there is nothing like real world experience.

    Once again, congratulations.

    Let us not stop until this insidiously evil industry is but a memory in this country and throughout the world.

  2. Sonia Trist says:

    Congratulations Mary Morris, Colin Schaefer, Jim Dunstan and all the people of Robertstown and Point Pass. Uplifting! Glorious news!
    Here at Cape Bridgewater, where hosts are rarely to be seen enjoying the carnage and devastation they have bequeathed to the local residents and the once magnificent environs, we need all the uplifting we can get our hands on.
    Thank you all for displaying such courage and hard hard work and proving what is possible, when we truly stick together.

  3. Energy Australia, like the mice in a plague, just can’t find any feed at Roberstown, so they do not survive. There will be a few other potential plagues that will dissapear in the near future, when the RET is stopped and RECs become too low in value to be worth their interest.

    People power has real power if we stick to the facts, and stick together.

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