Wind Farm Neighbours Burnt Out by Bushfire Sparked by Infigen Pursue $Millions in NSW Supreme Court

The source of all that unnecessary death and destruction.

 

Wind turbines are as useless as they are dangerous. Their dangers include the ability of self-immolating turbines and/or the often shoddily constructed electricity infrastructure meant to support them to spark terrifying bushfires, especially in the tinder dry Australian countryside in summer – so far, at least 4 bushfires have been started by turbines in Australia: BUSHFIRE RED ALERT: Wind Power Really Is Setting the World on FIRE

The odd blaze here and there might be forgiven if the source of the fiery devastation provided some necessary benefit to the community, as a whole. The only ‘benefit’ attached to wind power – a power source abandoned centuries ago for very obvious reasons – is an endless stream of subsidies, a benefit only returned to those in on the rort.

On 17 January 2017, wind farm operator Infigen sparked a blaze that ripped across the southern Tablelands of NSW and destroyed 3,400 hectares (8,400 acres), hundreds of sheep and cattle, sheds and at least one home. STT first reported on it on 25 January: Wind Power Setting the World on Fire: Infigen Sparks Devastating NSW Bushfire

The losses suffered by neighbours are in the tens of $millions. A class-action was launched in May 2017 in which those neighbours are chasing Australia’s most notorious wind power outfit for more than $20 million in loss and damage: Neighbours Sue Wind Power Operator – Infigen – for $20m Damages Caused by Devastating Wind Farm Fire

It comes as no surprise that Infigen –  renowned for treating rural communities with complete contempt – is refusing to accept any liability to the victims of the horrifying bushfire it sparked 12 months ago. Here’s a wrap-up on where the litigation is at.

Currandooley fire’s first anniversary sparks reflection
Goullburn Post
Louise Thrower
16 January 2018

A large portion of the Currandooley fire ground, showing
the entry to Tim De Mestre’s Merigan property at right.

 

The green tinge on pastures can be deceptive out past Tarago.

Beneath the grass on which stock are grazing again lie layers of ash. Beside the road, trees carry the black scars from the massive Currandooley fire a year ago.

On January 17, 2017, now dubbed ‘tinderbox Tuesday’ by locals, a blaze sparked at Infigen’s Capital Wind Farm on Taylors Creek Road, ripped through almost 3400 hectares, over the Bungendore Road, on to Mount Fairy and down to Boro.

It destroyed a house, about 3000ha of pasture, 80ha of crops, 150km of fencing, 10.5km of windbreaks, three sheds, water tanks a large set of cattle yards and damaged other farm infrastructure, Local Land Services later revealed.

The RFS found that a bird striking the wind farm’s high voltage power line caught alight, dropped to the ground and set off the fire.

One year on, the day remains fresh in the minds of many. Some gathered at Tim De Mestre’s home, Merigan, 14km from Tarago on the Bungendore Road on Tuesday night for a catch up and reflection. Mr De Mestre’s 950ha property was the worst affected with most of his pasture burnt, along with 4000 pines and 3000 natives planted as windbreaks, a large oat crop and 30km of fencing.

Dr Michael Crawford was one of the people attending Tuesday’s get together.

Speaking on Monday, the Tarago district resident said while people had got on with their lives, in some cases it had caused “significant disruption.”

“They’ve lost fences and stock and it all takes time to replace which otherwise would have been spent living their lives rather than recreating it,” he said.

“There are people who have suffered materially, including one who lost a house and precious mementos that will never be recovered.”

Scott Williams counted the cost to Richard Graham’s Hazeldell Road
log cabin after the Currandooley fire destroyed it in January, 2017.

 

Dr Crawford said anger lingered about the alleged cause and it was not a “forgive or forget thing.”

Infigen has denied any liability. A spokesman previously told The Post the company would cooperate with any future inquiry.

The NSW Coroner’s office is yet to formally decide whether to hold an inquiry. Police and RFS investigations have been forwarded to the office for consideration. Goulburn MP Pru Goward also called for such an inquiry last year.

A spokesman for the Coroner’s office said the matter was listed for callover on March 27.

Meantime, Dr Crawford says one of the main issues is what the RFS and State Government is “doing or not doing about wind farms.”

“There is a real question about how fireprone wind farms are to areas,” he said.

“There is research to show that the atmosphere close to the ground (near windfarms) changes temperature, bringing down warmer air and affecting moisture content in vegetation growth.

“…It’s reason to ask the RFS and government, ‘what have you done to understand the effect of wind farms on fire risk’. I’ve lodged a (freedom of information) request on this but have had no response but I expect they’ll say they’ve done nothing.”

Dr Crawford argues it’s incumbent on authorities to absorb this research and inform the community if there is an enhanced fire risk.

Some 38 landowners have joined a class action mounted by Warrnambool-based, Maddens Lawyers. Partner Brendan Pendergast said the firm was claiming in a Supreme Court action that the high voltage line’s design and configuration “gave rise to the ongoing problem of bird strike and that there were other incidents of birds being incinerated at the site.”

It is also claiming that greater vegetation control, implemented by Infigen after the fire, could have mitigated the risk.

Mr Pendergast said the amount claimed by the litigants was confidential at this stage.

“A significant number of people had their lives profoundly impacted both personally and with their enjoyment of the land and farming operations,” he said.

“One particular impact was the loss of amenity on beautiful rural lifestyle properties and complete stands of vegetation wiped out.

“It completely changed the landscape and it’s very difficult to get through that and look to the future.”

Mr Pendergast said some effects, such as erosion and dam siltation, had only become apparent after the fire.

While some of those affected were coping well, others had suffered psychologically.

“The financial impact is something that will take years to recover from. There are people in this action who are struggling,” he said.

The matter is listed for mediation before former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein on February 6 in Melbourne. The previous December mediation date was vacated.

The session is a compulsory step in the process and is designed to reach a resolution before trial.

Martin Maas from Goulburn Produce and Rural Supplies loading hay bound for Tarago and district graziers affected by the Currandooley blaze.

 

Local Land Services’
One year on, South East Local Land Services is also reflecting on its role.

Delivery support team manager Ken Garner said LLS undertook initial animal welfare and land management assessment, fodder drops and supported those affected and the wider community through a town hall meeting at Tarago with numerous support agencies present.

Asked if LLS had taken any experiences from the event, Mr Garner said it had been a good learning curve.

“We had a relatively new team in place and this was the first major fire we’d participated in,” he said.

“…This was a good test for the organisation and I believe we responded well with people on the ground early, responding to animal welfare etc and providing a good conduit to other organisations like BlazeAid, welfare and Community Health organisations.”

But he said managing and distributing donated fodder was something new and LLS had taken some lessons away.

“People are desperate at that time and you have to prioritise and match it to people’s requirements,” Mr Garner said.

Up at ‘Merigan,’ Mr De Mestre is still counting the cost of losing core breeding stock and kilometres of fencing.

The grass has come back but some windbreaks and grand old oak trees remain in a precarious state.
Goulburn Post

A pile of Infigen’s utterly unnecessary victims and their devastated owner.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on citizenpoweralliance.

  2. i seem to recall locals stating that they saw maintenance crews working on the towers on a total fire ban day (i was visiting Canberra and it was horribly hot)….and it was felt a spark from these crews started the fire? Birds catching fire sounds like a red herring to me?

  3. Dare one say don't expect too much with this case before such a noted champion of free speech?  When it comes to the obvious question of apprehended Left wing bias, what reasonable person would expect anything else?

    Whilst the case against the defendant might seem to be iron-clad, don't don't be too surprised to see Left wing ideology trump all once again, the all too familiar refrain of a judiciary so utterly beholden to a Leftist viewpoint.

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