Originally written by NATALIE MCGREGOR
AN outspoken Macarthur resident is warning landholders of the health hazards of ‘green’ projects.
Local farmer and Hawkesdale/Macarthur Landscape Guardians secretary, Annie Gardner, faces the prospect of 180 turbines, each 110 metres tall, to the south and east of her property as part of the Macarthur wind farm project.
With the recent announcement of a potential world-largest wind farm to be built near Penshurst, Ms Gardner is looking at 200 turbines, between 80-90 metres tall with a blade distance of 45-50 metres, just five kilometres to the north of her property. This means she will have turbines on three sides of her property.
Res Australia developer Simon Kerrison said the company would look to move the project forward over the next six-nine months.
The prospect of the wind farm would be introduced to the local people in the coming weeks, he said.
“We’ll look to apply for a planning permit at the end of this year or at the beginning of next year,” he said.
“The planning process takes approximately 12 months and then construction, if we get approval, is another nine-12 months after that.
“So we’re still looking at four-five years away.”
Ms Gardner is concerned about potential health effects associated with living in close proximity to a 625 megawatt wind farm.
“Wind farms appear in many countries overseas, but never has there been such a proliferation of turbines in an area as will be the case once the Penshurst and Macarthur wind farms are constructed,” she said.
“Often those living three kilometres away from a wind farm are more severely affected than those direct neighbours, due to the wind and contour of the land.”
Mr Kerrison said Res Australia would have to be sure that noise guidelines weren’t breached.
He said a survey, assessing environmental impacts, would be done before the planning permit application was lodged.
Municipals councils of Victoria has requested a setback of two kilometres for turbines from homes, as has the NSW government standing committee.
The Waubra Foundation, created as a result of the wind farm development in the Wimmera region, has requested a setback of three kilometres.
“In Melbourne, planning laws ensure that industrial developments are mostly segregated from residential areas and those factories usually only operate in daylight hours,” Ms Gardner said.
“Why is it that country people are not given the same consideration as their city counterparts?”
Ms Gardner said there were up to 100 residents of the Waubra district badly affected by the low frequency noise day and night, experiencing dizziness, sleeplessness and ringing in their ears.
“I urge people from Penshurst to drive to Waubra and visit the hundreds of people who have experienced health effects from this disgusting wind farm,” she said.
“Speak to the many people who are not able to sell their properties due to proximity to those enormous monster turbines and stay a while to see the flashing lights of the turbines drumming away at night.”
The UK-based company will look to employ local contractors as much as possible and says that the construction phase will boost local economy on many levels.
Ms Gardner is challenging the stance of local politicians and wind farm developers that the farms will indeed bring jobs to the district.
“Western Victorian people are being conned into thinking the jobs will be local but most of the work will be contracted outside this district, and only lesser labouring jobs will employ locals for just a few years,” she said.
“Has it occurred to anyone living near this wind farm that they will no longer be able to provide a safe workplace due to the incessant low frequency noise, shadow flicker and blade glint?”
She has predicted that wind farms will be obsolete in the district within 15 years or less, claiming the form of power generation is already outdated, extremely expensive, inefficient and unreliable.
“The wind farm industry will be just another plantation trees scam,” she said.
Once erected the wind turbines would be operational for 25 years, before the project would be decommissioned, Mr Kerrison said.
As far as being operational 24 hours, Mr Kerrison said “as long as the wind is blowing they will operate”.
The company is holding an open day at the Penshurst Memorial Hall on Saturday April 10, to answer any questions the local community has.
“People can talk to us and raise their concerns and we’ll be sure to answer their questions,” he said.