Pilots Flying United: Court Rejects Wind Power Project as Just ‘Plane’ Stupid

Local pilots unite to defeat just ‘plane’ stupid wind farm project.


All power generation comes with risk, which get traded off against the enormous societal benefits, when it’s reliable and affordable.

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.

Numerous Ag-pilots have been killed in collisions with wind turbines and wind farm MET-Masts, and plenty more have survived terrifyingly near misses: Pilot’s Nightmare: Wind Turbines Present Clear & Present Danger For Light Aircraft

Even military pilots renowned for their Biggles like derring-do are no more comfortable flying anywhere near these things: RAF’s Top Guns Call Wind Farms a ‘Disaster in the Making’ for Flyers

For the uninitiated, there are at least 2 critical dangers for flyers created by these giant whirling wonders:

1) air turbulence – generated by a sea of 50-60m blades with their outer tips travelling at around 350-400km/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.

The death toll (so far) also includes 4 killed (pilot and passengers) when a light plane slammed into a turbine in foggy conditions in South Dakota in April 2014 (see above).

In short, wind power creates a whole raft of wholly unnecessary risks to life and limb, and not just for those who take to the skies – the wind industry body count currently stands at 192: Summary of Wind Turbine Accident data to 31 March 2019

Well aware of the pointless risk these things pose, local pilots are no doubt celebrating their successful challenge to an obviously ‘plane’ stupid project pitched up for Cobden in south-west Victoria.

VCAT rejects application for Naroghid wind farm, Cobden aviation community welcomes decision
Kyra Gillespie
5 June 2019

A PROPOSED wind farm near the Cobden airport will not go ahead due to safety concerns and its potential to harm the habitat of the critically endangered southern bent-winged bat.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled on June 3 that no permit would be granted for the Naroghid wind farm following an eight-day hearing.

Developer Alinta Energy had planned for a 12 turbine wind farm on farmland north-west of Cobden, the latest in a string of wind farm proposals for the site since 2006.

But pilots feared a collision with the 180-metre high turbines, some proposed to be just 2.5 kilometres from the airfield’s northern runway, amid concerns the Corangamite Shire Council-owned site facing closure if the development went ahead.

The tribunal found the development’s impact on the airfield and nearby roosting sites for the southern bent-wing bat outweighed the project’s “favourable” clean energy qualities.

Corangamite Shire Council mayor Neil Trotter applauded the decision, but said the dispute was drawn out and costly for the council.

“We were concerned we would have to look for a new site if the wind farm went ahead,” Cr Trotter said.

“It means the council had to spend quite a bit of money to take this to VCAT, and it’s money on the face of it that we probably wouldn’t have had to spend if common sense had prevailed.”

Alinta spokeswoman Megan Taylor said an appeal might be on the cards.

“Alinta Energy notes the decision from VCAT and will take time to review the determination and assess whether a modified proposal might be feasible,” Ms Taylor said.

“We will always work to develop projects in collaboration with local communities and with safety as the highest priory.”

However Duncan Morris, a spokesperson for the Cobden Aero Club leading the charge against the development, said the applicant “refused’ to communicate with the club.

“If they do try to appeal or start again with a fresh application we hope they would try to work with us, because they refused to deal with us at any point,” he said.

“This decision is really good for the town, there are plenty of places to build these things that don’t affect existing community assets.

“These towers would have been 180 metres high, with the closest one about 1.4 nautical miles directly in front of the airstrip which would seriously impede a takeoff towards it and also the landing if you had to come around it or over it.

“It was in the middle of our flight path.”

Warren Ponting shows where turbines would be in relation to the airport


The $100 million project would have placed 12, 180-metre-high turbines that would produce between 43.2-48 megawatts across an 835 hectare area, which would have powered around 14,000 households according to Climate Council estimates.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said he would have refused the application for two reasons.

“The significant concern about the effect of the wind farm turbines on the safety and efficiency of the Cobden airfield … and the impact on the critically endangered southern bent-wing bat,” he said.

Opponents to the wind farm development also cited the vital role that the Cobden Airport played in fighting the St Patrick’s Day fires and peat fires, and feared the impact on emergency service accessibility if the airstrip was to cease operation as a result of the turbines.

“Not only is the airport great for the community and great for the people that use it, it’s also very important to have that available for emergency services such as air ambulance and aviation rescue fire fighters,” Aero Club president Don Mackinnon said.

“It would have made it nearly unusable.”

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority said turbulence is possible for a distance of 16 times the rotor of a turbine.

“CASA advises that the proposed wind farm will create an unnacceptable risk to the safety of aircraft operations at Cobden Aerodrome,” the aviation authority said in a statement to VCAT.

Shadow Minister for Aviation Gordon Rich-Phillips welcomed the news.

“Congratulations to the Cobden Aero Club and Cobden community more generally which has fought this ill conceived proposal for several years,” he wrote on Facebook.

Just ‘plane’ stupid.

3 thoughts on “Pilots Flying United: Court Rejects Wind Power Project as Just ‘Plane’ Stupid

  1. I am heartened by this result. Well done to the Cobden aerodrome.

    However I am concerned to read that things are less rosy for Portland airport with the expected withdrawal of Sharp airlines at the end of June. Not only because it is proof of a reduction in tourism numbers in the region, but also because it could lead to the closure of the airport. This could in turn see the site and flight paths being used for yet more wind farm development. If this were the case, it would be a moronic decision in my opinion. Tourism numbers are reducing in part due to the proliferation of wind turbines in the area. You only have to take a look at some of the tourism brochures for evidence of this where wind farms have been airbrushed out of photos, and in real estate brochures where angles are deliberately chosen to exclude wind turbines. A state wide study also revealed a drop in tourism numbers in the region.

    One answer to this serious predicament would be to cease anymore wind turbine developments. Take down all wind turbines in and around Portland, Cape Nelson and Cape Bridgewater. Restore the Cape environments to protect animals and vegetation. Shut down and remove all feedlots. When the smelter closes, set aside land on Cape Sir William Grant and Cape Nelson for Eco housing developments and alternative style living with large housing lots to include enough room to grow your own organic food. This could make for an ‘extremely’ healthy and desirable living environment that could bring many ‘sea change’ buyers into the area.

    As to the transport situation, it is all about ‘hub and spoke’ and the integrated transport system. A larger aircraft such as the Dash 8 or ATR could perhaps be configured for a mixed combo passenger freight operation uplifting more fresh produce from the region such as seafood, flowers, fruit, vegetables, dairy, etc. Toowoomba’s regional Wellcamp airport in Queensland and its new 3000m runway enables Cathy Pacific Cargo Boeing 747 operations into Asia and is a prime example of what can be achieved.

    Toowoomba Wellcamp airport link…


    Additionally, the VLine coach service could call at both Portland and Warrnambool Airports on its way to Warrnambool railway station. These air services could connect with Melbourne Tullamarine airport for direct onward travel via domestic and international air services.

    The integrated transport system is what we are talking about here.

    If these suggestions are not explored or discussed by locals, councillors and politicians alike, then a pretty gloomy future lies ahead for the area.

    Finally, take note of this comment I heard from an ex Portland resident recently, who has now left the town and moved to Melbourne…

    “That’s the trouble with Portland. It’s too blokey”.

    Ignore this comment at your own peril Glenelg Shire.

    Sharp Airlines to stop flying to Portland link below…


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