Macarthur Wind Farm Disaster: Jim Doukas Slams Fellow Moyne Shire Councillors’ Utter Contempt for Victims

jim doukas

Jim Doukas: a rose among the Moyne Shire Councils’ thorns,
proves that empathy hasn’t yet perished from this earth.

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Moyne councillor Jim Doukas critical of Macarthur wind farm report
The Standard
Anthony Brady
30 October 2014

A DEFIANT Moyne Shire councillor angered his fellow councillors but delighted the wind farm critics during a heated exchange in the council chambers this week.

A large gallery of wind farm critics cheered on Jim Doukas when he criticised the council’s response to complaints about noise issues relating to the giant Macarthur wind farm.

Cr Doukas was the only councillor to oppose the passing of a report approving the council’s handling of the complaints.

Cr Doukas claimed the report was biased and weak and brought into question the council’s relationship with wind farm owner AGL.

“The report is so light on information and facts it seems like it is bias. Is AGL doing something for us we don’t know about, because it looks that way.”

This comment brought an indignant response from mayor James Purcell.

“I may have misheard your representation, it appeared you were insinuating that this council, the integrity of councillors, was at risk here,” Cr Purcell said.

“This council has the highest integrity of any council any where in the world,” the mayor said.

Cr Doukas denied he had questioned the integrity of his fellow councillors but remained strong in his attack of the report.

He said council should do the right thing by the community and revisit this issue by conducting another investigation to come up with an “unbiased” outcome.

“It is not treating the people being affected fairly and not treating the other residents of the Moyne Shire fairly, because it’s the rate money we are going to have to spend when it goes to court.

“It’s all very well for us to sit here and act tough because we have ratepayers’ money, but if we had to defend ourselves with our own money maybe we’d have a different outlook.”

Earlier in the meeting Macarthur resident Jan Hetherington addressed the councillors, warning them of dire consequences should they approve the report.

“It is the opinion of the residents you may put yourselves in a position where you may be held accountable under the Australian Criminal Code Act,” Ms Hetherington said.

“Of which you have been made fully aware and in which case you most probably will not be covered by Moyne Shire’s insurance policies.”

She labelled information from the council’s solicitors that noise from the wind farm is not substantial and unreasonable as “utter rubbish” and said council should be ashamed of itself if it accepts such a poorly presented report.

“Should you approve of this report and its totally wrong conclusion you, through your continual ignorance and seeming willingness to hide and ignore all the evidence of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, will be knowingly allowing ongoing torture in the form of sleep deprivation.”

Cr Ralph Leutton caused a stir in his address supporting the report when he put forward his own scenario to Cr Doukas’ suggestion that wind farms should be turned off at night time.

He asked Moyne CEO David Madden if he could turn off the waves crashing on the beach in Port Fairy at night if that noise was causing a lack of sleep for residents.

A member of the gallery injected loudly that she had not chosen to live next to wind farms and that councillors had no idea of what residents are going through.
The Standard

Ralph Leutton’s attitude towards the suffering of his constituents tends to undermine James Purcell’s wild claim about the Moyne Shire Council having the “highest integrity any where in the world”.

That would be a mighty big claim at the best of times, but with this council thumbing its nose at its statutory duty “to achieve the highest attainable standard of public health and wellbeing by protecting public health and promoting conditions in which persons can be healthy” (set by s4 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008) – Purcell’s claim that it has world beating “integrity” falls just a little flat.

When it comes to “noise or other emissions” the Council (under s60 of that Act) comes under an express “duty to remedy as far as is reasonably possible all nuisances existing in its municipal district”. That duty applies to “nuisances which are, or are liable to be, dangerous to health or offensive”.  Where “offensive” means noxious or injurious to personal comfort”.

The decision of the majority simply cocks a snook at the Council’s absolute duty under the Act, which is clearly designed to protect and promote the health of ALL Victorian citizens. ALL citizens, that is, except those with the misfortune of being stuck next to 140 giant 3MW, Vestas V112s – according to the Moyne Shire Council.

Jim Doukas’ comment that the Council’s report is “biased” in favour of the operator, AGL is mastery in understatement.

In dismissing the residents’ well-documented complaints out of hand, the Council’s whitewash asserts that: “The social utility of the Macarthur WEF is significant, in that it is a source of renewable energy that does not cause greenhouse gases or other pollutants”.

So, let’s get this straight: if the Macarthur Wind Energy Facility was being run on coal or gas instead, the residents’ complaints would have been treated seriously; the Council would have acted consistently with its duty under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act; and ordered that the Facility be shut down at night?

But because we’re talking about “wonderful” wind power, the Council gets to ignore their suffering; abdicate its statutory duty to its residents (and ratepayers); treat them as “road-kill” and leave them to rot in what have become sonic torture traps (see our post here).

As we said in this post: “When those that govern us become indifferent to the reasonable demands of those they’re paid handsomely to represent, the very integrity of the institution of government suffers. When that indifference turns to open contempt (as it has), it isn’t long before ordinary people become fed-up, grab their pitchforks and revolt.”

Using the tag “renewable energy” in a cynical effort to “justify” the suffering caused to the health and well-being of hard-working, tax-paying citizens by incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound is nothing short of monstrous (see our post here).

The Council’s report concedes that the noise generated by AGL’s turbines causes “sleep disturbance” and yet says that suffering from “sleep deprivation” is not “dangerous to health”.

That “finding” will come as news to the World Health Organization which – in its Night-time Noise Guidelines for Europe – the Executive Summary at XI to XII covers the point – says:

NOISE, SLEEP AND HEALTH

There is plenty of evidence that sleep is a biological necessity, and disturbed sleep is associated with a number of health problems. Studies of sleep disturbance in children and in shift workers clearly show the adverse effects.

Noise disturbs sleep by a number of direct and indirect pathways. Even at very low levels physiological reactions (increase in heart rate, body movements and arousals) can be reliably measured. Also, it was shown that awakening reactions are relatively rare, occurring at a much higher level than the physiological reactions.

The review of available evidence leads to the following conclusions.

  • Sleep is a biological necessity and disturbed sleep is associated with a number of adverse impacts on health.
  • There is sufficient evidence for biological effects of noise during sleep: increase in heart rate, arousals, sleep stage changes and awakening.
  • There is sufficient evidence that night noise exposure causes self-reported sleep disturbance, increase in medicine use, increase in body movements and (environmental) insomnia.
  • While noise-induced sleep disturbance is viewed as a health problem in itself (environmental insomnia), it also leads to further consequences for health and well-being.
  • There is limited evidence that disturbed sleep causes fatigue, accidents and reduced performance.
  • There is limited evidence that noise at night causes hormone level changes and clinical conditions such as cardiovascular illness, depression and other mental illness. It should be stressed that a plausible biological model is available with sufficient evidence for the elements of the causal chain.

But what would the World Health Organization know about night-time noise, sleep and health, hey? Apparently, half-a-dozen country bumpkins wedded to defending the wind industry at all costs know better than the world’s top public health experts.

Maybe it’s that level of “expertise” that’s led to the Moyne Shire Council having the “highest integrity any where in the world”? This is one group of councillors who will never be accused of modesty.

STT loves Ralph Leutton’s specious comparison between noise from turbines and waves lapping on a moonlit beach –  a line that comes straight from the wind industry play book.

The wind industry wrote the noise standards that councils (see our post here), planning departments (see our post here) and EPAs (see our post here) use to cover up the noise problem (see our post here); invented lies about wind turbines sounding like a refrigerator 500m away; or like waves lapping on a moonlit beach (see our post here); and invented a nonsense theory that the only people suffering from turbine noise impacts are red-necked climate change DENIERS who refuse to fall in love with the “majestic” look of giant fans – a class of people that one advocate of the “nocebo” story calls “wind farm wing nuts” (see our post here).

For Ralph Leutton’s benefit here’s a video of what his beloved turbines really sound like – the first sequence is from Macarthur. STT finds it hard to believe that anyone in touch with their earthly senses could compare wind turbine noise to waves lapping on a beach:

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Waves_on_Straddie_beach

Drawing a “comparison” between this and turbine noise takes real audacity.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Keith Staff says:

    I know Jim Doukas. He is an honest and very straight guy.

    I was present at the council meeting. Moyne Shire should be ashamed of themselves. They had an opportunity to do the right thing for impacted residents, but they just rolled over for the corrupt wind industry and their paid for consultants.

    • Martin Hayles, Curramulka says:

      Who are the consultants Keith? It is well beyond time that the paid up consultants for this utterly corrupt wind industry are answerable.

      We all know who they are, as do the government planning departments, and it is time we bring them to account for what is nothing less than criminal, corrupt behavior.

      By criminal definition I suggest knowing behavior that through financial inducement is deplorable, shocking, preposterous, shameful and reprehensible.
      All behaviors associated with Big Wind.

  2. Moyne shire councillors, I suggest you try not sleeping for a week and see how good your health is after seven days and seven nights without sleep.

    That would be a good cheap and effective experiment about whether lack of sleep affects your health. Anyone even with half a brain knows that the BLOODY noisy fans will destroy a reasonable night’s sleep.

    Moyne councillors, get real you bloody fools, sleep deprivation does affect your health.

    • Melissa Ware says:

      I agree with you and apologies everyone, I just have to add more to this; keep them awake for seven days and seven nights without sleep but with amplified broadband noise to the degree neighbours of turbines are exposed to, pump it loud or even quietly into their bedroom, stop, start and vary the intensity without warning. Then let’s do the experiment for ten years with only a night or two of occasional rest. Make the noise vibrate and resonate to ensure they feel it. Oh and add in psychological taunts using baseless theories from baseless professors, a good dose of name-calling and disbelief and media discrimination and the cost of respite and health costs; (also higher rates with lower house values and saleability) and let’s see if they survive life with turbine emissions without hypertension or migraines. Make sure the whole family cop it too and also while they are sick or grieving or trying to celebrate an important occasion, like Christmas or a birth or a wedding.

      Actually we can’t do that…it’s called human experimentation, it’s banned. Seriously, I wouldn’t wish to torture or wish turbines on anyone. Spineless decision makers pretending to have no idea or responsibility for their betrayals need to review their policies and their loyalties and start abiding by codes established to protect the public and communities they serve.

      I too tip my hat to ‘Sir’ Jim Doukas, those spontaneous and heartfelt cheers for you in the Council chamber are echoing throughout the country and make us proud.

  3. Martin Hayles, Curramulka says:

    “This council has the highest integrity of any council anywhere in the world” -Mayor James Purcell.

    This sounds like one very incompetent and defensive mayor.

    On what research basis can this person make this claim?

    I would suggest that he has done no research. The capability to make such world wide research would be nigh impossible. This type of reaction indicates that he is not worthy of the office he holds.
    Perhaps resignation would be appropriate, but unlikely, due to arrogance.

    Having met such honest, noble people as Annie and Gus Gardner and Jan Hetherington who have been so hugely impacted by the Macarthur wind abomination, the question has to be asked, why have they been given no serious regard by the mayor?

    I will also ask the question, what monies have the Moyne council received from the wind farm developers and for what reasons?

    Who are the expert consultants that have reported that there are no noise or any other concerns in relation to Macarthur and who paid them?

    I ask these questions because the Macarthur wind farm is the closest in scope and scale to the proposed Ceres industrial wind complex on Yorke Peninsula.

    The Yorke Peninsula District Council at first baulked, when challenged on planning rules and regulations by the Heartland Farmers. It was suggested to us by the head honchos, that it was a too difficult task and not within their (ratepayers) consideration.

    I can only suggest that when the same people realised that we were serious, in an extreme manner, that they decided to do the work.

    I can only give credit to the public servants of the YPDC, in particular Mick Cartwright under the auspices of CEO Andrew Cameron, that they did a thorough investigation of the Ceres planning proposal and found it sorely wanting.

    It was found to be so failing that at the meeting of council, it was unanimously voted against.
    The failing was in regard to the inability and incompetence of the proponents to prove that they could meet requirements.

    It was also apparent that the proponents, who considered that their proposal had ‘rubber stamp’ approval, had callous disregard for the locals.

    Subsequently, the proponents were extremely annoyed at council and let it be known, because without local government approval it would be extremely difficult to achieve finance.

    This is the case, even though Ceres has Crown/Major development status which leapfrogs any local government concerns/approval. [Crown/Major development status relates to fast tracking critical infrastructure, supposedly for the betterment of the state. How on earth a wind farm is considered “critical infrastructure” is beyond me].

    It DOES NOT achieve its stated aim of greenhouse gas abatement due its inability to achieve base load power generation and never will, therefore it is not fit for purpose.

    I look forward to a Royal Commission into the wind industry where the likes of the MSC’s mayor will have to explain his treatment of AGL’s numerous innocent victims.

    I ‘dips me lid’ to councillor Jim Doukas – I don’t know you, but I figure if we were in the trenches I’d like you protecting my back, as opposed to the ‘mayor’, an unaccountable coward.

  4. Terry Conn says:

    Once upon a time, not long ago, when the people in your community said to you and your local councillor ‘listen mate, I don’t know all the scientific reasons why, but there’s something going on (with these bloody big turbines) that means I can’t sleep and drives me nuts’ then you would be believed. Not anymore. These councillors now choose to believe some self serving ‘rent seeker’ or their paid agents than their own friends and neighbours. Ultimately it means the end of decent and meaningful society and greed and anarchy will prevail. That this council has supported a position totally ignoring the experience of its own community’s life and blood citizens in favour of some academic appraisal from disconnected rent seekers is a despicable act of treachery that will ultimately lead to the end of any hope for a civil society. The impacted parties of Moyne shire should at least know where to cast the first heated pitch forks and in this case they won’t have far to travel.

  5. E Griffiths says:

    Don’t forget, ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law.

  6. Seems like Cr Doukas hit the raw nerves of the otherwise not-so-sensitive Cr Purcell. Maybe there was a little lack of integrity in the council’s decision? Too much trust in man made gadgets and the reports “experts” write, rather than the human experience of suffering around Macarthur.

  7. Melissa Ware says:

    Idiots, including above mentioned, say they are not qualified to pass opinion on devastating health impacts on people living anywhere within ten km of turbines. They believe this lack of opinion absolves them from their duty of care and responsibilities to people they govern, whose well-being they are responsible for and are answerable to. Over and over again and for years our representatives at local, state and federal levels have been presented with ‘complaints’, letters, victim impact statements, shown vividly by video, rare on-site visits to affected homes and are directly and indirectly aware of the full impacts of these power plants on people. The devastation they are causing. The trotting out of ‘sounds like the beach’, or ‘no louder than the fridge’ is pre-kindergarten level intelligence metered out by this industry to make suckers out of those believing the lie.

    A burning pitchfork in the form of a huge legal battle awaits these perpetrators of sleepless nights and torture of good people. To read the statements of those twenty people tormented by this facility and conclude ‘that the noise at Macarthur is not substantial and unreasonable and that a nuisance does not exist” lacks validity or proof. The inadequacy of planning laws, councils and our government to protect people from wind farm harm must be reversed as more and more and bigger turbines are constructed. South Western District Shires are on notice; simply saying a nuisance does not exist does not make it so. Evidence is mounting that we are not nimby’s or deluded or under some irrational nocebo effect, our walls do indeed shake from noise and the noise emissions are in fact harmful.

    • Martin Hayles, Curramulka says:

      On the money Melissa. It is just a matter of time.
      Sadly, this is hurting you, but as the great Abbott has said, “Justice will prevail”

Trackbacks

  1. […] regarding the incursion of the Wind Turbine Industry into their family farm. Together we discuss: Macarthur Wind Farm Disaster: Jim Doukas Slams Fellow Moyne Shire Councillors’ Utter Contempt for Victims, the ABC campaigning […]

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