Nothing generates more hatred and bitter community division than a wind farm.
While all eyes are on Australia’s brewing energy catastrophe and the Large-Scale RET that caused it, it’s easy to forget that the battle against the great wind power fraud is still being fought town by town and community by community, in the bush.
If anything, the fact that the majority of Australians have turned on subsidised wind power – the cause of rocketing power prices, widespread blackouts and routine load shedding in South Australia – has only served to make rural communities living with, or threatened by, giant industrial wind turbines angrier still.
Tarago and Mt Fairy is just one such community, nestled on the rolling hills of the southern Tablelands of New South Wales. Community defenders there have mounted a furious opposition to the threat by Spanish outfit, EPYC to spear 88 of these things into the ranges near Lake Bathurst, Tarago, Mayfield, Boro, Mount Fairy and Manar.
Proving that the community’s hatred of these things is equally matched by their persistence and tenacity, locals have been on a war footing since June 2014 – Jupiter wind farm threat sends locals into orbit – with no sign of relenting.
With the proposal about to be considered by the NSW Planning Department (as renowned for its incompetence as its corruption), community defenders have belted the Department with 536 submissions in opposition to the project.
The depth and strength that opposition comes as no surprise to STT. However, the real standout in this story is that one of the submissions opposing the project came from none other than Andrew Bray, who is the spin-doctor-in-chief for the Victorian Wind Alliance and the Australian Wind Alliance.
Record submissions and huge opposition to Jupiter Wind Farm proposal
Sydney Morning Herald
6 March 2017
The Jupiter wind farm proposal has attracted massive opposition and more submissions than any NSW renewables project, including the first formal objection ever made by the Australian Wind Alliance to a wind farm project.
During the exhibition period, which has now closed, about 600 submissions were received by the NSW Department of Planning.
Among the individual submissions, there were 536 against the wind farm and 38 in support of the joint Australian-Spanish venture which plans to install 88 turbines across 23 rural properties in Tarago.
To put the overwhelming response to the project into perspective, of the NSW wind farm proposals for Bango, Biala, Crookwell, Crudine Ridge and Collector in recent years, none received more than 150 total submissions.
Tarago resident Graham Hawk objected to the plan. He said its approval would ruin the scenic area and amenity of his home.
The swathe of submissions was in line with what is typically received for major development projects in Sydney.
During the Jupiter wind farm consultation, 10 of the organisation submissions were neither for nor against the proposal, 12 objected, however none advocated for the project.
Among the objecting organisations were the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council and the Australian Wind Alliance, in an unprecedented move formally objecting to a wind farm project.
“It was the first time and I hope the only time we will find ourselves objecting to a wind farm,” AWA National Coordinator Andrew Bray said.
The alliance’s submission stated the proponent’s “lack of flexibility and poor communications have unnecessarily raised the ire of many local residents”.
Flaws in the environmental assessment of noise and visual impacts, lack of consultation and not considering local planning controls plagued the proposal early on.
However Mr Bray said the major deficiency was the standard of consultation which resulted in a lack of trust and unnecessary hostility toward to the project, but also the broader renewables industry.
“To be honest in this case we see the engagement has been poor and it is very difficult to go back and fix a problem like that,” he said.
“Community engagement is done a lot more professionally and transparently these days. To see a project like this where the engagement was being done to a sub-standard level was incredibly disappointing and upsets the prospects for other good projects taking place. We were reluctant to oppose but we made the call. It is a bottom line issue for us.”
NSW Planning and Environment will assess the submissions and determine whether the proposal will be approved to progress in the coming weeks.
Sydney Morning Herald
Andrew Bray has, hitherto, occupied the position of ‘high priest’ among Australia’s dwindling wind cult. So there has to be some very compelling reason for him turning on his beloved?
What Andrew appears to have finally realised is that people in rural communities are not as naïve or gullible as him and his cronies would like to believe.
Why should people watch their lives and livelihoods destroyed all for the sake of a meaningless power source which cannot exist without massive and endless subsidies?
Ending up with a worthless and uninhabitable home; watching the value of a life’s work slashed to a pittance; all the while knowing that the wind industry has permeated and corrupted every level of government and every institution that ought to act to protect the Australian voting public, rather than the interests of Spanish wind power investors – secures a sense of seething rage amongst the wind industry’s real and potential victims.
Andrew Bray’s conversion is one that recognises that a tactical retreat is better than a strategic slaughter.
The tightknit community opposing the Jupiter proposal is led by a group of heavy-hitters, with political connections to people like local Federal Member, Angus Taylor.
Well disciplined and well-organised, this group presents a threat not only to the Jupiter proposal, but also represents an existential threat to the wind industry and the renewables rort, as a whole.
Andrew Bray might be a wind power zealot, but he appears capable of gauging the brewing political opposition to subsidised renewable energy; not just from those rural communities threatened by wind farms, but from industry, business and households across the country.
With One Nation threatening to drag the Liberal/National Coalition back to the right, and muddling moderate, Malcolm Turnbull unlikely to last much longer as PM, Australia’s LRET is facing an imminent mortal threat.
The scale and scope of the fury amongst the Tarago/Mt Fairy community provides political conservatives with just another good reason to kill off Australia’s renewable energy policy in its entirety. And there are plenty of Liberal and National backbenchers who need no encouragement in that respect.
In that light, Andrew Bray’s submission opposing the Jupiter proposal can be seen as an effort to ensure that the LRET continues without political interference.
From Andrew’s perspective as a highly-paid wind industry lobbyist, there is still a small fortune to be made, provided the LRET survives in its current form.
Perhaps he believes there are still opportunities out there, provided that communities are sparsely populated and/or their opposition is disorganised?
It could be that Andrew is looking to stop pushing wind power and start pushing large-scale solar? – which rarely raises an eyebrow in rural communities. With zealots it’s hard to tell what they’ll do next.
But, one thing is for certain, the furious folk from Jupiter have rattled him and his wind industry clients.
More power to Tarago and Mt Fairy’s community defenders! Keep fighting. We will prevail.