Fighting for Air: Communities Rally to Stop Wind Projects Wrecking Local Airports

All power generation comes with risk. However, those risks are traded off against the immeasurable societal benefits provided by reliable and affordable electricity.

Where the power source is wholly weather dependent – and the industry that profits from it wholly dependent upon massive and endless subsidies and, therefore, wholly unsustainable – there is nothing to trade off worth the lives of those who take to the skies, particularly for a living.

In short, wind power creates a whole raft of wholly unnecessary risks to life and limb, not least for pilots and their passengers.

Here’s a couple of stories about communities fighting back to retain their right to take to the skies. The first from Victoria in Australia, the second from Simcoe County, Ontario.

Fight for Cobden airport’s future hits close to home for Corangamite Shire mayor Jo Beard
The Standard
Kate Zwagerman
21 December 2017

Jan O’Connell, Eunie Dawe, Paul Moloney, Warren
Ponting, Helen Watts and Stan Williams at Cobden airport.

 

Corangamite Shire mayor Jo Beard’s reasons for opposing a 12-turbine wind farm that threatens the future of Cobden’s airfield are personal.

The airport has always been part of the Cobden local’s backyard, but its role as a vital community asset was brought home when her husband, Daniel, was involved in a serious car crash.

“It will be 20 years next year that… my husband was involved in a fatality car accident where two people were killed. He was probably one of the worst of the survivors and he was airlifted out of the Cobden airstrip,” she said.

“By the time he got to Melbourne they had to revive him. If he did not have that air ambulance taking him out of Cobden down to Melbourne… he wouldn’t be around.”

She said the strip remained an important landing site for the fixed-wing air ambulance, as well as the helicopter.

Cr Beard also pointed to the council-owned strip’s role in supporting aerial fire-fighting, agricultural spraying and tourism.

Cr Beard told this week’s Corangamite Shire council meeting that she would be standing up with her community and “fighting really hard to make sure that airstrip is still there”.

Plans for the Naroghid wind farm, located directly north of the Cobden airport, are being considered by the state Planning Minister. Corangamite councillors voted to lodge a submission objecting to the project.

Alinta Energy is behind the project, which would build 12 turbines measuring 180 metres high. The closest turbines would be about 2.5 kilometres from the runway, limiting the ability to take off and land and risking the strip’s future registration as a code one airfield.

Cr Lesley Brown said giving the Planning Minister control of wind farm approvals meant there was often little consideration of local people.

“I find it difficult to understand that the state government is the only authority to decide where these wind farms are located,” she said.

Corangamite Shire Mayor Jo Beard

 

Cr Helen Durant said the airport provided an important service to the community, businesses and emergency services.

“I hope that common sense will prevail because if it doesn’t and the future of the airstrip is threatened than nothing will stand in the way of inappropriate sited wind towers in the future,” she said.

Cr Neil Trotter said the Planning Minister should “use his power to veto this forthwith”.

Cobden Aero Club member Duncan Morris thanked the council for supporting the strip in its submission.

The airstrip hosted a community day last weekend, with hundreds of people and about 40 planes flying in to show support. Mr Morris said a petition had received about 400 signatures within a couple of days.

“The wind farm commissioner came to our airport and had a look first-hand at what we saw as the troubles. He may not have the final decision, but I’d rather being going into this with his support rather than without it,” he said. “I suspect we’ll get his support.”

Mr Morris said the aero club and hangar owners group were also making a joint submission on the wind farm, which is being drafted up Sydney-based aviation lawyers.

Cobrico dairy farmer Angela Molloy told Tuesday night’s council meeting that the wind farm could impact her family’s right to farm.

“We have three turbines adjacent to our residence, with the first turbine 1.07 kilometres from our house,” she said.

Mrs Molloy said the farm’s fertiliser spreading was contracted to an aerial spraying company operating from the airport, which would not continue if the wind farm went ahead.

“The loss of this spreading pertains to a loss of $70,000 a year. Nothing a dairy farmer can withstand,” she said.

Mrs Molloy also raised concerns over shadow flicker, aviation lighting that could impact on sleep, and planning discrepancies found in the map of the Naroghid wind farm.

“When I first did a drive-by with another lady we found 40 houses missing off this map. This map has been in circulation since 2006 and we want to know why it hasn’t been picked up. It is disgusting. Where or how has any of this got through without someone checking it?” Mrs Molloy said.

“We now have a planning consultant that has cost us more money and he has found eight houses that range from 1.5 to three kilometres missing off the Naroghid wind farm map.”

Mrs Molloy said they had also received no communication from the wind farm company.

“Because we are objecting we’ve never heard from them,” she said.
The Standard

Clearview decision on wind turbines set precedent: pilot
Simcoe.com
Ian Adams
2 January 2018

Kevin Elwood fighting for the right to take to the skies.

 

Planes and wind turbines don’t mix.

In August, the Environmental Review Tribunal upended the renewable energy approvals for a proposed eight-tower wind turbine project in Clearview after nearly a decade of protests by neighbours, and the objections of both township council and Collingwood because of the turbines’ proximity to the regional airport.

In February 2016, the director of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change approved the REA for WPD Canada’s Fairview Wind project. Resident John Wiggins was first to file an objection, and was followed by Kevin and Gail Elwood, whose aerodrome off County Road 91 would also be adversely affected by the proposed locations of the towers.

Both Collingwood and Clearview — along with the County of Simcoe — would follow suit in appealing the decision on the basis the location of the towers near the regional airport represented a threat to human health.

“It was worth it, but the worth was in making a change to a government policy that didn’t respect a huge sector of the community … the aviation community,” said Elwood, a Clearview councillor and pilot who also has a hangar at the Collingwood Regional Airport.

Elwood said the tribunal’s decision was one that could have been arrived at 10 years earlier by the provincial government when they implemented the Green Energy Act.

At that time, Elwood said, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association testified at the committee level there could be conflict between turbines, aerodromes and flight procedures, and “the province ignored it at that stage.”

“It took them 10 years to recognize there were safety risks and that irreversible harm to human health existed,” he said. “The government made a decision that green energy was … above everything, above all other interests.”

He acknowledged it created rifts in the community, thanks to the “arrogance” of the provincial government.

“We knew, we felt it wasn’t for the community,” Elwood said. “I didn’t do it for my own self-interest; it cost me a lot of money, and what did I get out of it? Yes, I might have saved my life by not flying into a turbine, but I didn’t have any monetary gain out of it.

“Most people who I met with across the province … were all concerned about their communities and the negative impact the community would experience through the unknowns of wind turbine development.”

Elwood hoped the decision set a precedent across Canada for policy-makers when it comes to setbacks from aerodromes.

“I think that will become part of any future approvals, or any new policy that may be drafted in the future,” he said. “To me, that was the biggest achievement and the thing I’m most proud of.”

Elwood said it was also a case that was built on evidence, not emotion.

“We had experts from around the world testify,” he said. “This decision wasn’t based on local community conflict, it was based on science and solid fact — and it had expert testimony behind that.”

The municipalities, along with the other appellants, are still waiting to see whether the tribunal will award costs.
Simcoe.com

The opening line in the piece above is that: “Planes and wind turbines don’t mix.”

They most certainly don’t.

There are at least 2 critical dangers for flyers created by these things: 1) air turbulence – generated by a sea of 50-60m blades with their outer tips travelling at around 400km/h – interfering with the ability of the pilot to control their kite (see our post here); and 2) slamming into them – with reasonably predictable results.

As to 1) here’s a report submitted in 2013 to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority by Ted McIntosh (a highly experienced agricultural pilot from NSW):

Date: 18-03-2013
Local time: 0730
State: NSW
Location: 9kms WNW of Gunning Wind Farm, Gunning NSW. Damage to aircraft: nil Most serious injury: nil
Summary:

Whilst on descent to my operating airstrip near Biala NSW, I suddenly experienced severe turbulence at about 500-600ft AGL. The wind at this time had been approx. 5-8 knots from the SE. After landing I ascertained that there was only a slight breeze at ground level. I suspected that the turbulence was caused by the wind turbines at the Gunning Wind Farm but was amazed that the effect could be felt 9kms away.

After the next take-off I confirmed that the turbulence was indeed caused by the turbines.

There are many fixed wing & helicopter aircraft which operate at or below 500 ft AGL legitimately from hundreds of airfields around Australia.

CASA & the Dept. of Infrastructure & Transport have released a study, the National Airports Safeguarding Framework Guidelines D (Wind Turbines) to protect major airports, but it should be apparent that the greater threat to air safety from wind turbine turbulence lies around country airports, both public & private, which threat CASA & the Dept of Infrastructure & Transport have glossed over or ignored.

For aircraft trying to stay aloft or take-off and land safely, weather related turbulence is an unseen menace that often strikes without warning. But it’s hard to envision turbulence being generated by turbines troubling a skilled flyer over 9 km away. So here’s a picture for the uninitiated:

As to 2) wind turbines have claimed numerous Ag-pilots in the US (see our post here). And in another example from South Dakota, a light plane slammed into a turbine blade in foggy conditions, killing all four on board (see our post here):

Flyer’s justified fear of wind turbines realised in South Dakota.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. I was hoping that Alinta may have been a better company to purchase electricity from, seeing as they bought a coal fired power station recently, but it seems they are not. Oh well.

  2. Peter Pronczak says:

    As a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer & former Auster J5 Adventurer aircraft owner, the only place it makes sense to have a wind generator, is on the wing of an antique aircraft, that doesn’t have an engine generator to charge the battery to turn the starter motor: Rather than risking life & limb to hand swing the propeller to start the motor.

    That is the ridiculous antiquity of the technology being used.
    There are more blades that fly of new wind turbines than come off aircraft, & turbines that catch fire.
    That is the woeful standard of manufacture & maintenance of wind turbines compared to the rigorous standards, including against noise, time, place, and height of operation, that is enforced on the billions of aircraft around the world.

    If aircraft were failing from all the turbine inefficiencies, they would be banned.
    There is no level playing field for private power generation, distribution & billing; a 3 desk profit model (so much for Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand of market forces’ the one that’s picking your pocket).
    If the aircraft industry start cutting safety to make extra money people die, there is inquiry and accountability.
    Die slowly or quick from alternative energy culpable stupidity & it’s swept under the carpet.
    As Lang Handcock sadistically said over his Australian asbestos mines, “Some must die so that others may live.”
    James Hardie Industries just like BP Solar (Germany) have run away from responsibility with the blessing of governments.

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