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Collector wind farm opponents angry about government approval

Hume MP Angus Taylor.

Hume MP Angus Taylor.

Opponents of a wind farm at Collector say the fight isn't over, while a local Liberal MP has labelled the industry "economically unviable" after a 55-turbine project received NSW government approval this week.

Friends of Collector founders Rodd Pahl and Tony Hodgson expressed disbelief at the Planning Assessment Commission's (PAC) determination to allow the wind farm to proceed, albeit with eight of the proposed 63 turbines removed from the project.

Neither would commit to a legal appeal against the PAC decision, but both said they were reviewing their options.

"The whole thing's a disgrace," Mr Hodgson said. "What's happened I think has been an absolute breakdown in due process."

Mr Hodgson, who on two previous occasions sent letters to potential host landholders threatening to sue should turbines prove "an actionable nuisance", warned his neighbours not to rely on indemnity provided by wind farm company RATCH-Australia to protect them against legal action.

Mr Pahl said the decision was met with disbelief by some members of the community, who weren't satisfied with the removal of the eight turbines that would have been most visible from the township. ''Our concern is that it's not just visual, but it's also around noise and health," he said.

"The PAC are relying clearly on what we regard strongly as being outdated and biased advice from the NSW government, in particular on the health issues."

Mr Pahl hoped an upcoming review of the federal government's Renewable Energy Target (RET) would cut back on subsidies for projects like the Collector Wind Farm.

"This has nothing to do with saving the planet or green electricity. This has everything to do with money," he said. "From our point of view, unless RATCH and the host landholders have very deep pockets of their own, this wind farm won't be built."

Newly-elected federal Liberal MP for Hume, Angus Taylor, said the "controversial" Collector Wind Farm decision, which defied "strong community opposition", would disappoint residents, and hinted the RET review would likely prove the undoing of the wind farm industry.

"Projects like this seem set to continue unabated until a national review - which the new federal government has committed to in 2014 - can reveal the true economics behind the industry," he said. "The RET review will look into the massive subsidies for wind farms, which are forcing up electricity prices and propping up an economically unviable industry.''

Collector Community Association's James McKay said he was disappointed with the entire three-year process, which divided the community rather than united it behind the project. While he said the removal of eight turbines was a small "win" for the town, ultimately there was a long fight ahead to ensure the community received adequate benefit from the wind farm in the long run.

"The whole thing could have been better, and so obviously Collector, collectively, is now in a position where it has to salvage what it can a bit and send a clear message to legislators that it has to improve the process," he said.

RATCH-Australia project director Anthony Yeates said some of the conditions of approval - particularly removing eight turbines - were unexpected, but the company planned to move ahead with the project and hoped to begin construction by the end of 2014.

7 comments

  • Mr. Hodgson would likely have a better case if he were to sue Alan Jones. There is much better evidence that the mad hysteria whipped up by wind farm oponents is responsible for adverse health effects (a nocebo effect) than by infrasound from the turbines.

    Commenter
    Actionable nuisance
    Date and time
    December 05, 2013, 6:21AM
    • There are no proven significant health side effects from wind farms, While there are many from CSG's use of toxic chemicals for fracking, yet it receives a fraction of the political resistance from government. Of course the conventional Energy industries generous donations to party funds and maybe future prospects of employment as lobbyists or board advisers, for retired politicians has no influence on policy at all. If wind farms are so toxic and uneconomical, why is China installing over 10 gigawatts of wind farms a Year! The answer of course is with wind power there are no externalities like fuel resources and transportation, the wind is free and on site. This is fiercely apposed by conventional energy interests who want to keep the status quo. False hysteria is drummed up re health effects to frighten the general public. Wind farms are part of the solution not the problem!

      Commenter
      Urban Off-gridder
      Date and time
      December 05, 2013, 9:50AM
  • why should the 'community receive adequate benefit from the wind farm in the long run' if the wind far is to be hosted on private land??? I'm sure no one would be expect to receive benefits from any other commercial entity setting up business near the town, but not on public land!

    Commenter
    monkeybusiness
    Date and time
    December 05, 2013, 9:25AM
    • Why is there no transparency on the impact on power bills? What is the true cost of these turbine subsidies in dollar terms and social impacts? I have pensioner friends who are moving away from the district in winter because they now cannot afford their electricity bills. Is one pensioner death due to cold, two deaths due to no air-conditioning in summer or 3 deaths due paying the power bills and not food acceptable? Where are the social service agencies and churches on this issue?
      Large Scale Subsidies (LRET) review needs to include an element for transmission costs (approx. 50% of recent impact due to ‘Gold Plating’) whereas small/medium Scale RET (rooftop solar) should not include nearly as much transmission cost impact. We need the RET review to expose the true costs rather than this mindless support for big industry green labelled products

      Commenter
      Jane B
      Location
      ACT
      Date and time
      December 05, 2013, 9:33AM
      • Jane B, less than 2% of your bill goes to the Renewable Energy Target:
        http://yes2renewables.org/2013/12/05/pollie-watch-taylor-ret-review-wind-energy-sector/

        Commenter
        Nick Valentine
        Date and time
        December 06, 2013, 8:27AM
    • Having just been to northern Europe and seen wind farms all over the place and no complaint I have to ask what are the problems with Mr Pahl and Angus Taylor? Where is Mr Pahl's evidence of noise and health problems?There is no evidence of wind farm noise and health problems - see: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/new0048_public_statement_wind%20turbines_and_health.pdf
      http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/wind-farms-what-we-cant-hear-cant-harm-34870

      Commenter
      Kenny
      Location
      Gold Coast
      Date and time
      December 05, 2013, 9:51AM
      • Angus Taylor is simply not believable. While he claims to be concerned about climate change, he does everything possible to deny the effectiveness of wind energy and the delay its development while promoting technology such as geothermal energy which is still in developmental stage, unlike wind energy and solar.

        He rants about subsidies, conveniently ignoring the fact that polluting coal-fired electricity has been subsidised since its inception, while wind energy developers have to rely on the fact that electricity retailers have to source a percentage of their supplies from renewables.

        It really would be interesting to know what financial interests Mr Taylor has in industries associated with fossil fuels and mining – to help us assess his objectivity.

        As for the so-called Friends of Collector, they do the area a great disservice with their denial and antiscience propaganda. They sound more like a subsidiary of the Waubra Foundation.

        Commenter
        Cephid226
        Date and time
        December 05, 2013, 1:22PM
        Comments are now closed
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