Sunday, 17 June 2012

Survey reveals overwhelming community support for wind farms
12 Jun 2012

COMMUNITY surveys by the Clean Energy Council show more than three-quarters of respondents support continued development of wind farms. Two-thirds of the 1200 people surveyed across Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales believed a farmer's right to generate income from their land was more important than a resident's right to a view without wind turbines.

More than 7 out of 10 said farmers should be able to do what they wanted with their land. A total of 41% said it was unlikely wind farms would create health problems for people living nearby and 18% said it was very unlikely. In another question response, 83% predicted health concerns would turn out to be nothing to worry about. The results were released by the lobby group as community debate continues about alleged health effects on people living near wind farms and environmental impacts, with the latest protests centred around a proposed 233 turbine wind farm near Penshurst.

According to the Clean Energy Council, which represents renewable energy companies, 25% of interviewees were from south-west Victoria, with much of the region's polling done around Macarthur and Port Fairy districts. A quarter of the participants were from Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, while the rest lived near wind farms zones. Results also showed 77% of respondents felt local communities and land owners should be able to make their own decisions about hosting wind farms, without interference from state politicians, and 49% felt some objectors were motivated by jealousy after missing out on income for hosting wind farm towers.

The council's policy director Russell Marsh said survey results showed how anti-wind farm activists were out of step with most of the community. "They don't mention the thousands of local people that have been employed by wind power", he said. "They don't mention the hundreds of farmers for whom wind turbines have been the difference between staying on the land and selling up.

"And they certainly don't mention the tens of millions of dollars that have been pumped into regional communities, helping sustain those areas missed by the mining boom". Mr Marsh said the Australian wind industry was committed to being as transparent and supportive as possible towards communities and appreciate concerns. "There are obviously real issues that will continue be debated", he said. "As with any new infrastructure there will always be some people who respond to wind farms with anger or anxiety".