Wednesday 9 October 2013

Planning body dismisses anti-wind claims
10 Sep 2013

NSW Planning Assessment Commissions have given plans for the Bodangora wind farm in Dubbo, NSW, the green light. The PAC's recent tick of approval has come just a few weeks before the VCAT hearings on Victoria's Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposal which is scheduled to resume on September 27.

Both wind farm projects have caused controversy within surrounding communities but Friends of the Earth renewables spokesperson Leigh Ewbank said much of the controversy is brought about by the anti-wind farm scare campaign. "The PAC's approval of the Bodangora wind farm shows that planning authorities base their decisions on credible research, not pseudoscience claiming that wind farms harm human health", Mr Ewbank said.

Aside from approving the Bodangora wind farm PAC also dismissed health concerns brought to the attention of the commissioners by anti-wind farm campaigners.

The PAC report stated that: "NSW Health noted that the symptoms reported by residents concerned by wind farms are also reported by those living near other new developments of various kinds. Studies suggest these symptoms are suggestible, ie, if individuals are expecting to be impacted they will be more likely to report symptoms. It was also suggested that the visibility of the turbines influenced the likelihood of complaints from a neighbour".

Mr Ewbank said Friends of the Earth would hope VCAT take the ruling of the PAC into account when deciding the fate of the Cherry Tree Range proposal. "VCAT recently approved a fast food outlet in the Dandenong Ranges that mostly sells unhealthy food. It would be bizarre if they failed to approve a wind farm that produces clean and safe renewable energy", Mr Ewbank said.

He said the anti-wind farm lobby has made a concerted effort to turn the Mitchell Upper Lachlan Council community against the Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposal.

"The anti-wind farm organisers divide communities with their fear campaign and distract people from the local benefits of renewable energy", Mr Ewbank said. "The Cherry Tree Range will deliver jobs and drought-proof income for farmers and the community. It will allow the region to claim a leadership position in addressing climate change".

Based on estimates by Friends of the Earth, the Cherry Tree Range wind farm will generate up to $80,000 for a community fund each year, contribute $76,000 worth of rates each year, inject $1.2 million worth of flow on economic benefit to the economy and produce enough electricity to power 26,000 homes and prevent 150,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere each year.