Thursday 12 December 2013

Waubra wind farm: locals petition to save town's name
5 Nov 2013

A GROUP of Waubra residents say they don't want the debate about wind turbines and health to end. But they do want the name of their town left out of it. Waubra residents have collected more than 300 signatures of people within the town and the wider community, calling on the Waubra Foundation to remove the name Waubra from its title.

The Waubra Foundation describes itself as a national organisation to conduct research into health problems identified by residents living near wind turbines. The petition was sent to the Waubra Foundation last week. Karen Molloy, one of the residents who started the petition, admits she does have wind towers on her own property.

However, she says, of the 315 signatories, only 28 actually host wind farms. "We've collected over 300 signatures, including 179 from the Waubra community", she says. "The others are all people affiliated with the town, such as footballers and netballers, and people who used to live here. "Even some people who weren't for the wind towers were happy to sign. This is not about the towers, it is about the community and its reputation outside. "The towers have been here for five years. It is time to get over it". Ten residents collected signatures for the petition.

One of them was Doug Hobson, who says the focus of anti-wind farm sentiment on Waubra has tarnished the town's reputation. He says most people in the town would describe it as a great place to live but a scan of the internet would not reveal that. "Waubra is associated with wind towers. We don't mind that," he says. "With the turbines people actually take more notice of our town as they pass through.

"But when you Google 'Waubra' the first thing that comes up is something negative about our town. People would think that everyone in Waubra doesn't like wind farms, and that is not the case." Marcia and Kerryn Gallagher agree. "Even if there is a disease we're campaigning for people to stop calling it Waubra disease and start calling it a wind turbine disease," Marcia Gallagher says.

"I met some people who had come down from Queensland and they actually felt sorry for me because they thought I had some kind of disease." Kerryn Gallagher says the name Waubra Foundation is misleading. "When you look at the word 'foundation', it is a strong word that means a strong base. So when the 'foundation' says we have an illness or sickness, people take it seriously and it's wrong," she says. "We're happy if they continue with their campaign against wind power but we simply want our name back."

Margaret McDonald says most people in Waubra would know someone in the town who has experienced health issues attributed to the wind towers. She says those who organised the petition did not want to trivialise their concerns. "We empathise with the people who feel that they are unwell," she says. "This not about the debate about wind farms. The debate will go on but we have to respect each other. We want to take the name Waubra out of the debate."