Backlash Against Big Wind: Victorian Communities Vent Fury at AGL

Nothing generates personal hatred and deep-seated division, quite like the threat of wind turbines being speared into peaceful and prosperous rural communities.

While the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers still attempt the line that rural communities are falling over themselves to get in on some wind farm action, their spin and the reality are paddocks apart.

After years of being shunned by former friends and neighbours for introducing turbines into their communities (or signing up for that to happen in future), many turbine hosts are keen to wind the clock back and make amends.

Divided communities, angry former friends and hostile neighbours are just one aspect of what has caused actual and potential turbine hosts to regret their decisions; and, in Australia, encouraged them to present their cases to the 2015 Senate Inquiry:

SA Farmers Paid $1 Million to Host 19 Turbines Tell Senate they “Would Never Do it Again” due to “Unbearable” Sleep-Destroying Noise

Unwilling Turbine Hosts Tell Senate: Australia’s Most Notorious Wind Power Outfit – Infigen – a Team of Bullies, Liars & Thugs

Farmer Knocks Back ‘Offers’ of $100,000 a Year to Host Turbines & Tells Senate: “These Things Shouldn’t Be In Anyone’s Backyard”

In Western Victoria, AGL are looking to build another subsidy-soaked wind farm to rival its Macarthur public health disaster.

Already hated by its Macarthur victims, AGL is hoping for a totally different result just down the road; and has engaged super-slick PR outfit, Futureye to help massage opinion and suppress community outrage.

Corporate giant AGL has stepped in to address community concerns about a proposed Willatook wind farm
Moyne Gazette
Madeleine McNeil
19 February 2018

Corporate giant AGL has stepped in to address community concerns about a proposed wind farm at Willatook.

AGL community relations manager Hannah Coffey told a recent meeting of residents that AGL accepted that “a lot of people have had bad experiences with AGL” at its Macarthur windfarm which was why they were taking the unprecedented step of engaging with the community before reaching the planning application stage.

The meeting was organised by Willatook and Macarthur residents and AGL attended as a major investor.

Renewable energy project developer Wind Prospect general manager Ben Purcell, Ms Coffey and Futureye’s director Kelly Parkinson addressed the 60 residents at the Willatook Hall on Wednesday night which was chaired by Moyne Shire councillor Jim Doukas.

The residents raised fears about the project, which includes the construction of about 85 wind turbines with a 395.9 megawatt capacity which are expected to have a tip height of 220 metres. They fear they will affect their health, financial future and rural lifestyle.

The residents called on AGL to “fix” existing problems at Macarthur, such as deteriorating roads, before launching into a new project.

Resident Jacinta Coffey said the area was “becoming a dumping ground for wind energy” and it was “unfair” to the community with more than 240 wind turbines to be built in Hawkesdale and surrounding areas.

She wants AGL to work with the government to “take wind farms away from the community” and build a transmission line in the “thousands of acres” of open space across the country “where people don’t live”.

Attendee Garry Morrison said it was a decision that would affect “the rest of everyone’s lives”.

Residents raised concerns about the deterioration of already crumbling roads and said fire fighting helicopters would not enter the area if the turbines were there. Sleeping problems and the noise generated by the new turbine models which have only recently been released in Australia were other issues discussed.

They voiced financial concerns around decreasing property values, including their superannuation, which was tied up in their land, saying they would not be able to sell their properties if it was built.

Mr Purcell said Wind Prospect and AGL wanted to work with community members “to try to address these concerns and work together to improve the project design”.

Cr Doukas said the meeting went well and the residents had their say. “A lot of the questions were taken on notice,” Cr Doukas said. “I don’t know if they’ll get answered or not. They had their say. We’ll see what happens in the future.”
Moyne Gazette

Moyne Shire’s Jim Doukas stands with his constituents against AGL.

 

You know you’re being conned by wind industry PR when they describe the facts and matters that are about to ruin your life and livelihood as ‘concerns’. And AGL is no longer content to rely upon its own special brand of ‘charm’, having wheeled in the PR ‘pros’.

STT looked into the shadowy Futureye back in June 2013 (see our post here).

From what appeared on its website back then we were able to report that:

Futureye was set up to help organisations earn a “social licence” to operate that resolves existing conflicts and averts future issues.  It works with organisations to engage with stakeholders and communities to improve their social performance and communicate with the public in a way that enhances their reputation and protects their operations from political and regulatory risks well into the future.

We learnt that earning “a social licence” apparently means not only understanding “outrage” but actively suppressing it.

When Futureye “deals” with outrage its techniques are, apparently, very different to those used in traditional public relations. Futureye’s manifesto says that businesses:

“need to understand the concerns of the community and address any underlying issues that have the potential to fuel outrage in the future.  A large part of outrage mitigation is therefore about listening and acknowledging the views of a small group of highly involved stakeholders.”

There’s that code word “concerns”. But Futureye’s ‘magic’ doesn’t end there:

“a large part of outrage management is about listening and acknowledging the concerns of the community to calm any anger surrounding an issue and enable a more rational discussion about the facts to take place.  Outrage management achieves this by putting aside the technical components of an issue until the emotional sides of it have been addressed.”

Some might be just a little unnerved at the mention of – “outrage management” – sounding more like some kind of Soviet-era crowd control trick.

The reason the likes of AGL, Pac Hydro, Acciona, Hydro Tasmania and the Clean Energy Council joined forces with Futureye is that when:

“businesses or industries find themselves besieged by outrage, they become vulnerable to political and regulatory forces. Control over their future is ripped straight from their hands and placed squarely in those of politicians and regulators forced to respond to the public’s concerns.”

Heaven forbid – politicians might respond directly to the outrage of those that vote them in and out of office.  Futureye’s mission is pretty clear – it’s been set up to prevent democracy from occurring, at all costs.

Fortunately, five years on, and with the help of STT, Victorians fighting the likes of AGL aren’t likely to be played for fools, even with help from outrage managers, Futureye.

And so another community joins the battle for peace and prosperity in the Western Districts of Victoria.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Catherine Webster says:

    Unfortunately Wind Prospect appears to be going to ram this project through given their recent email communications, despite public outrage. The rolling hills of the Western District will soon be covered by these environmental disasters. All this aided and abetted by amoral governments.

  2. The directors of the wind farm operators must be laughing in their beer at the signage that is being held up by the protestors in the photo – it is pathetically weak and completely ineffective. The people organising the rally have little idea of how hard-ball politics needs to be played if you want to win. Protestors need giant banners (which are not expensive) that name to shame the directors of the wind farm operators and their principle investors – all printed in huge lettering. This can be done without breaching libel laws. The objective is to bring highly focussed pressure on the big-money decision-makers who are sucking the life out of these communities and transferring the meagre wealth of poor Australians into their own pockets by means of obscenely inflated power prices – destroying our economy as well as ruining the lives of rural people. The whole trouble with the people objecting to the wind-farms and “renewables” generally is that they are disorganised, uncoordinated, unfocussed, and generally don’t have a clue about the fact that if you want to win, then you have to play the political game from the gutter – just like as ALP and the Greens do with their shock troops from GetUp. There are plenty of potential foot-soldiers for the cause out there – it is largely a matter of motivating and organising them. If you want to stop the juggernaut of crooks and the political slimes who are profiting from the obscene fraud that goes by the phoney name of “Renewables”, then you will have to get with it people. They can be brought down – but you will have to do things a lot smarter that this.

  3. Warwick Read says:

    Dear STT,

    What a wonderful community service you provide -congratulations. My husband and I have been fighting the Stockyardhill WInd Farm for over 10 years now. Your insight and education has helped us along the way. Thank you.

    I’m sure you have seen the article below? Published in last weekend’s Ballarat Courier newspaper. You have a reward on your head!

    Good luck and keep up the great work!

    Kind regards, Megan Read

    • Isn’t the bounty hilarious, all the money he’s made out of windfactorys, could have been six figures!

  4. Crispin says:

    Futureye?

    Not them again.

    It does raise the question though. Where was the Wind Farm Commissioner?

  5. They wouldnt answer any questions and are just proceeding against all neighbors objections regardless. Dont know how long Hannah will last but that arsehole Ben Purcell will keep going to the bitter end.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: