Pac Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm Victims to Be Told What They Already Know: Turbine Noise Has Ruined Their Lives

Sonia Trist

Sonia Trist with the home she loves and has been forced to abandon.

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Wind farm critics keen to hear expert’s findings on turbine noise
The Standard
Peter Collins
3 January 2015

WIND farm critics are hoping an expert’s report to be presented in Portland next month will strengthen their case for official recognition of noise and health issues linked to turbines.

Among those planning to attend the report’s release will be Cape Bridgewater residents, some of whom claim their property values have been eroded since wind turbines were erected in the past decade. The Standard understands some houses on Blowholes Road, where turbines tower over the popular coastal spot, have been vacated.

Six people took part in acoustic testing for eight weeks in June and July related to the Pacific Hydro wind facility at Cape Bridgewater.

Acoustics expert Steven Cooper is expected to present his final report on February 9 in Portland, with Senator John Madigan also likely to attend.

Local resident Sonia Trist, who participated in the study, said her home was 600 metres from the northern end of the Cape Bridgewater farm which has 29 turbines, all 110 metres high.

Nearby resident Melissa Ware has previously spoken of headaches and other health effects attributed to the turbines.

She said the study showed a link between wind farm noise and vibrations and sensations she felt.

Another resident on Blowholes Road, who did not want to be identified, said residents had been pro-wind energy before the project was constructed, but now realised there were alarming side effects.

He said as well as health concerns, property values had plummeted to the point where some were almost unsaleable.

Glenelg Shire Council mayor Robert Halliday recalled that the Pacific Hydro project application had been scrutinised during several weeks of hearings by a planning panel.

“Both sides had their chance to address concerns,” Cr Halliday said.

“Pacific Hydro said no towers would be visible from the beach and that’s the case.

“Admittedly some of the laws now are a bit different.

“The council back then favoured renewable energy as does the current council.

“There are concerns about wind farms and these are addressed in the proper process.”
The Standard

Good to see the mayor cutting right to the chase – as he blunders off, heading straight to the periphery, on his way to utter irrelevance: completely ignoring the REAL issue driving people – like Sonia Trist – from (otherwise) perfectly good homes.

Not one of the complaints made about Pac Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater disaster hinges on whether “towers [are] visible from the beach”.

Either the mayor is a wee bit dense, or, perhaps, Pac Hydro simply handed him the wrong script?

He clearly hasn’t spent a night trying to sleep in a home 600m from turbines belting out a psychopath’s symphony, like what’s recorded in this video taken at Sonia Trist’s home, which provides a minute fraction of what Sonia has had to put up with for well-over 6 years – and maybe, just maybe, a logical reason as to why Sonia has decided to abandon her home.

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The “screech” heard in the video is a “special” feature that was added in 2011 to the “Psychopath’s Symphony” that Pac Hydro has faithfully rendered, whenever the wind is blowing, since 2008 (see our post here).

And, maybe, just maybe, if the mayor was taking his cues from his rate-paying constituents – as he’s paid to do – instead of running lines for the wind industry – he would take the time to walk a mile in Melissa Ware’s shoes (see our post here) – and would drop the inanity of the wind industry’s favourite weasel word: “concerns”.

“Concerns” is a favourite of the wind industry and its apologists – whether greentard bloggers or the government “enablers” – EPA and health department lackeys, for example.

It’s a word deliberately used to diminish and downplay the seriousness of the charges levelled against the known and proven consequences of sticking giant industrial machines in closely settled rural areas, like Cape Bridgewater, Waubra, Waterloo and Macarthur.

It also comes straight from the developer’s legal department, which makes sure their operatives never let slip anything that could be taken as an “admission” of liability to their victims.

Oh, and health and planning departments, EPAs etc all get the same advice – hence their overweening use of the same term. They have been squarely warned about their potential liability and have been told to spruik from the same “play-book” used by the industry’s goons.

What people stuck with industrial wind turbines, or desperately trying to avoid that prospect, are expressing are perfectly rational responses to a set of facts adverse to their lives, health, well-being and economic worth. None of which warrants the term “concerns”.

“Concerns” are what little old ladies have for the safety of their pet cat, “Tiddles” when he has managed to get himself stuck in a tree.

CatTreeRescue

No need to be concerned, granny. Tiddles is safe now.

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As George Orwell – a bloke who knew a thing or two about the way words are employed by the powerful and corrupt – put it:

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better.

And it’s the same perverse language used by Pac Hydro’s preferred “outrage managers”, Futureye (see our post here) – which was enlisted some time back to pop a lid firmly on the “concerns” (read “seething anger”) expressed by Cape Bridgewater’s residents who have been belted by incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound since the disaster started in 2008.

Having launched into the realm of irrelevance, the mayor then asserts that the residents’ “concerns” were “scrutinised during several weeks of hearings by a planning panel.”

skippy

What’s that Skip? We should accept a noise standard written by the wind industry, that you could drive a bus through, and approve it anyway?

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Victorian planning panels – like those elsewhere – have all the curial rigour that Skippy the Bush Kangaroo – intelligent, though she was – might have brought to any forensic process; and have provided (and continue to provide) wind farm developers with the perfect opportunity to lie their way to approval with well-oiled waffle like:

Now, while the mayor’s focus is clearly on the “concerns” about the look of these things – it’s the noise emissions that have led people to throw in the towel and abandon homes that are now worth a fraction of what their owners would otherwise get in the absence of Pac Hydro’s screeching monsters.

But it wasn’t just the locals that were worried about the adverse impacts of turbine noise from Pac Hydro’s wind farms near Portland. Oh, no. Pac Hydro had one or two teensy, weensy legal “concerns”.

Back in April 2002 (according to local rag, The Spectator) Pac Hydro went to war to prevent the Glenelg Shire Council from granting planning approval for a $5.4 million health resort proposed to neighbour its – then proposed – “Blowholes” wind farm at Cape Bridgewater. In its submissions to the Glenelg Shire planning panel (dealing with the application by the developers of the proposed health resort), Pac Hydro whined:

“In the event that the Portland Wind Energy Project is approved and Council is of a mind to approve the Health Farm proposal, it is requested that conditions be placed on the permit to the effect that buildings will be constructed and windows glazed so that noise levels in any inhabitable rooms will not exceed 40 (decibels) by reason of the proximity and operation of wind farm towers.”

“A further condition shall require that the owner and operator of the Health Farm sign a legal agreement … acknowledging the presence or intended development of the wind farm, acknowledging prior notification concerning likely noise impacts and indemnifying the company against any complaints by reason of noise or nuisance arising from wind farm operations. This would be lodged as a covenant on title.”

The Council subsequently approved the health resort, but Pac Hydro marched straight off to the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal to challenge that decision. According to The Spectator, Pac Hydro threw the following pitch to VCAT:

The land use conflicts with the Portland Wind Energy Project (PWEP) and, in particular, the development and operation of wind generators in the ‘Blowholes Cluster’ at Cape Bridgewater;

Approval of the health farm would reduce flexibility to resolve siting and design issues for the wind farm in the vicinity of Blowholes Rd and the carpark area;

The PWEP and health farm would be incompatible because of the potential noise and nuisance during construction and normal operations of the wind farm over a period of at least 25 years;

Action to redesign the PWEP to make it compatible with the health farm would result in the removal of up to seven proposed wind generators. This would severely jeopardise the viability of the PWEP and thereby remove the benefits of greenhouse gas abatement;

The health farm is generally inconsistent with proper planning for the area, and contrary to state and local planning policies in the area;

The proposed health farm is contrary to pre-existing legal arrangements between the parties relating to the future use and development of the relevant land.

Pac Hydro also argued that:

The conditions of the permit were insufficient to protect the clients and occupants of the health farm from the potential noise and nuisance arising from the wind farm, and the conditions were insufficient to protect the wind farm owners, developer and operators from legal or statutory action by clients, occupants, owners and operators of the proposed health farm.

Hmmm…

So, just a little further up the road – and a few years down the track – Pac Hydro was, and remains, more than happy to slaughter the peace and serenity of people like Sonia Trist, Rikki Nicholson and Melissa Ware (see our post here) and Brian and Joanne Kermond (see our post here) – and render their family homes uninhabitable; and practically worthless.

Pac Hydro’s motives in fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent the health resort from being built next door to its proposed “Blowholes” wind farm are clear and mercenary enough: keeping a well-heeled (potential) neighbour from getting a toe-hold next door would avoid a serious and very costly (potential) litigation threat in future.

And – if Pac Hydro’s bid to slam the door on the health resort failed – its reserve position was to demand that the planning conditions imposed by the Council would effectively prevent the health resort’s developer from taking legal action against it, by requiring the resort’s owner to: “sign a legal agreement … acknowledging the presence or intended development of the wind farm, acknowledging prior notification concerning likely noise impacts and indemnifying the company against any complaints by reason of noise or nuisance arising from wind farm operations.”

With that condition in place, Pac Hydro would have been free to destroy the amenity that patrons might reasonably expect to enjoy at a ‘health resort’ – and with it, the very patronage that would have otherwise made the resort a viable business – with absolute legal impunity, as the resort’s owner would have been bound to provide Pac Hydro with an indemnity for “noise or nuisance” complaints; and any losses suffered as a result.

However, Pac Hydro obviously wasn’t so “concerned” about any potential threat of litigation coming from the victims of its Cape Bridgewater disaster – where it has ridden roughshod over dozens of long-suffering people since 2008.

Pac Hydro apparently judging its targets there (unlike the health resort’s developer) as unlikely to be able muster the legal resources needed to run a nuisance claim against a wind power outfit with practically unlimited means, and one ready, willing and able to deep-pocket ordinary people like Sonia Trist:

Sonia Trist

Sonia Trist.

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Rikki Nicholson and Melissa Ware:

Melissa and Rikki

Melissa Ware & Rikki Nicholson.

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And Brian and Joanne Kermond:

Brian and Joanne

Joanne Kermond

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Some might call Pac Hydro’s calculus about the prospect of litigation from its future neighbours “good corporate risk assessment and sound legal resource allocation”.

STT calls it yet another example of the wind industry’s callous disregard for the rights of hard-working, law-abiding Australian citizens – a new “standard” that wraps up wanton corporate greed in a blanket of state-sanctioned, institutional malice.

And when we talk about “state-sanctioned, institutional malice” we mean precisely that which results in elected officials – like the Glenelg Shire Council’s mayor – trying to justify the destruction of their constituents’ lives, health, wealth and well-being with lines about being “all for ‘renewable’ energy”.

Fortunately, it’s conduct like that exhibited by the Glenelg Shire Council and Pac Hydro at Cape Bridgewater – and the wind industry and its institutional apologists, generally – that is squarely in the sights of the Senate Select Committee, its terms of reference including the following:

(1) That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on Wind Turbines be established to inquire into and report on the application of regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines by 24 June 2015, with particular reference to:

(d) the implementation of planning processes in relation to wind farms, including the level of information available to prospective wind farm hosts;

(e) the adequacy of monitoring and compliance governance of wind farms;

For those suffering from or threatened by turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound – the product of ‘standards’ and planning ‘controls’ that are so lax as to be risible – the callous conduct of wind power outfits, like Pac Hydro; and the institutional corruption that not only permits it, but which actively defends that conduct – now is your chance to hammer them; and the so-called ‘standards’ and planning ‘controls’ that set this mess up in the first place – and which, if left in place, will allow it to continue unabated.

Why not drop a submission to the Senate Inquiry along those lines?  Note that the opportunity to make submissions to the Committee ends on 27 February 2015. See the link here.

dirtyrottenscoundrelsoriginal

We didn’t really care about patrons at the health resort either, but there was a better than even chance that the owner would sue us, and win.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Crispin Trist says:

    You have excelled yourselves STT in your research. The general media would do well to catchup with you on this issue as they are being well and truly left behind! There are a few exceptions of course. They know who they are and they have been featured many times on STT.

    As a resident of Cape Bridgewater I say thank you for your thorough research into this “nightmare” that is the Cape Bridgewater Industrial Wind Facility SCAM!!!

    The cat is now well and truly out of the bag on this one.

    Just how much closer to “cause and effect” do we need to get on this issue before a legal ruling can be made against this despicable industry?

    I would like to again draw attention to my short film that I have posted on STT in an effort to further illustrate this issue. I would urge others to make their own short films also.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=u6_ndrRnccw

    Shame on you Pacific Hydro and to all who have assisted you in this “Dickensian” planning disaster!

  2. Keith Staff says:

    It’s time …. it’s time for the wind industry to stop denying that there are no noise/health issues with industrial wind turbines being located within 10 kms of homes.
    It’s time …. for Shire Councils to stand up and be counted.
    It’s time …. for more honesty and transparency from agencies who are paid to protect our environment.
    It’s time …. for the fraud of big wind to be stopped.
    It’s time …. for some moral fortitude from large sections of the biased media to start reporting the facts.
    It’s time …. to recognise that gigantic wind turbines placed too close to homes adversely impact property values.
    It’s time …. to accept that a lot of vested interests are at work and that money corrupts.

  3. I think there will be a successful legal challenge against these wind weasel grubs one day and as a result they will degrade into nothing.

  4. I am still hopeful (despite all evidence to the contrary) that one day the state and federal governments (especially their health departments) and the local councils will acknowledge the atrocities they have visited upon the people of Bridgewater and the neighbours of other industrial wind parks. Studies like this one must be funded and the findings made public – without this the weasels of the wind industry can continue their cover up.

  5. Melissa Ware says:

    “There are concerns about wind farms and these are addressed in the proper process.” says Cr Halliday.

    Thanks for the acknowledgement of public concerns about wind farms and I ask a polite how?

    Exactly what is the proper process for addressing serious and valid concerns about wind farm emissions? There are many detrimental impacts on health and quality of life for those of us forced to live day in and day out beside this industrial nightmare and are not appropriately addressed.

    None of the Government departments have fully investigated, commissioned in depth health studies or limited the emissions of the PWEP in any way that I know of.

    The Glenelg Shire Council is well aware of the problems being emitted from the wind energy plant and in six years have not addressed any process proper or otherwise and have not by any means acted to protect distraught families like mine. In fact in the past have repeatedly said to me in response to problems of noise and vibration, “it has nothing to do with them”.

    There was opportunity to hear both sides as Cr Halliday said but that was many years prior to the erection of the 29 massive turbines on the Cape. Many of us did the right thing by the town of Portland and didn’t object to the prospect of a wind farm, believing the company spiel the turbines would be safe and quiet and that there would be jobs etc. We believed the turbines were to be as small as they were erroneously portrayed in the ‘montages’.

    I believed there was no way they would be allowed on the three magnificent Capes. The Gannet Colony and nearby Smelter wetlands (since shut down) are overshadowed by Stage 4, impacts on the habitation in these special places is unimaginable to me. How can sea birds navigate the distances across the Antarctic to reach mainland Australia after long weary flights to navigate through the blade paths of turbines? In Portland….who cares?

    Cape Bridgewater has a heritage overlay by the Trust ( I think) and heritage listing of properties which date back to pre-1850s; recently ruled by Heritage Planning Panels Victoria. How can you marry heritage and protection of historic buildings and wind farms?

    This area is virtually the birthplace of (white) Victoria. Driving across from the dry West this area is a literal green jewel from ample rainfall, for tourism; with beaches, caves, lakes and extraordinary beauty . I don’t know how long its been since Cr Halliday has been to the beach, but with Stage 4 of the PWEP it’s difficult to find a place throughout the Portland surrounds where you don’t see these behemoths or avoid the bombardment of broadband noise and vibration.

    People like to say they stand beneath the turbines and don’t hear a thing. This maybe true. It is a very different story inside our homes at various distances from the turbines, where the walls, floor and furniture literally shake from the industrial noise emissions of the wind farm. These disturbances of noise and vibration warranted full investigation by an independent Acoustician.

    Final release of Mr Coopers acoustic study of Cape Bridgewater to clarify and hopefully prevent industrial sourced problems being experienced within and outside our homes at Cape Bridgewater is awaited. Preliminary findings of Mr Cooper’s study may be accessed on Pacific Hydro’s website.

  6. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    The actions of Pac Hydro with respect to the Health Resort is an example of how this industry runs rough-shod over everything and anyone who could get in its way. That the Resort was given planning permission, yet a business which had not managed to get its plans in before hand could threaten and stomp on the Resort owner’s right to build their project, and for the Wind Project to not have to reassess its position and possibly find another location, is nothing more than corporate bullying sanctioned by the Local Council and the Government.
    How this company could have for so long ignored the pleas of those living at the Blowholes, to ridicule and allow to be ridiculed those suffering when they were obviously aware of the problems BEFORE they erected their towers of danger and disdain should be a matter to go before the Victorian ICAC to investigate because such an occurrence could only occur with the cooperation of people in authority.
    Those who have ridiculed people such as Sonia Trist and Melissa Ware, those who have labelled their condition as something caused by fear should read this article and understand the company KNEW the dangers BEFORE they built, these people are not crying wolf; they are suffering and people who should know better should spend more time thinking before speaking because their utterances have caused immense harm and pain to these and others in similar situations. Those people who have caused harm on top of harm should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
    Another thing that has come from this story is that, while Pac Hydro were more than aware that problems for close neighbours could occur (hence their requirement for a legal document exonerating them if problems did occur) so too were the Local Council and the Government bodies: it is the Local Council and state government, etc that will will feel the weight of a court case, not the company, because they approved the project even after being made aware there could be problems by the company.

Trackbacks

  1. […] rightly so: Pac Hydro’s continued mistreatment of its wind farm’s neighbours is nothing short of a disgrace – it is unnecessary, […]

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