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Threat of legal action against wind farm hosts

An anti-wind farm resident of Collector says he will sue his neighbours should they become turbine hosts as part of a proposed wind farm in the small community north of Canberra.

A proposal for a 63-turbine wind farm at Collector was referred to the Planning Assessment Commission by the NSW Department of Planning late last month, with the recommendation the plan be approved. The commission will hold a meeting in Collector on Tuesday to hear from the public.

But last week, lawyers acting for Friends of Collector president Tony Hodgson sent a letter to landholders who would probably host a turbine. It said there was precedent for legal action as it was "anticipated that the operation of the wind farm will have substantial and actionable adverse affects [sic] upon our Client".

"By leasing your land to accommodate wind turbines, you authorise the nuisance that is likely to result from the noise emitted by the operation of those turbines and you can be held liable in respect of the entirety of the damage sustained by those affected by the nuisance, including any personal injury that materialises," the letter said.

The letter, sent to eight properties, warned that development consent was not a defence against possible legal action and recommended recipients seek legal advice.

Mr Hodgson said he had been advised by his lawyers that there was "extensive" precedent to sue his neighbours should the turbines prove a nuisance, and that he would seek damages.

"The installation of those wind turbines will cause a nuisance on my property and you're not allowed to do that," he said.

"It's already quite clear that just the notion that there's potentially wind turbines on my property or the adjoining properties … leads to a substantial diminution in value of the property of at least 35 per cent and in some cases 60 per cent.

"This isn't a threat, this is a promise. You put those things up, I will sue you. There's not much to discuss.''

He said the letter was the second in two years, but he had received no response. He would be guided by his lawyers should the wind farm be approved, but he refused to comment whether he had received guidance about possible legal action against the company proposing to build the wind farm, RATCH-Australia.

One of the recipients, local farmer and wind farm proponent Gary Poile, said he read less than one of the six pages, and "had a bit of a chuckle".

"To be perfectly honest, I only read the first bit of it and I really didn't treat it very seriously," he said. "It's silly games, I'm not really worried about him.

"We're going to the bullying tactics, are we? I don't know what it's all about, but I assume that's what it is, old school bullying tactics."

Despite the legal threat being aimed specifically at the landholders rather than the wind farm company, Mr Poile said he would refer any action against him back to RATCH and was confident they would deal with it.

Both Mr Hodgson and Mr Poile will be addressing the commission's meeting in Collector, which was extended to a second day after many people registered to make submissions.

There will be a total of 41 submissions made by both groups, who are allotted 15-minute slots, and individuals, who are given five minutes to address the commissioners.

Mr Hodgson said he saw about five proponents on the schedule, while the balance of submissions he believed would be against the wind farm.

But Mr Poile said there were a lot of people and groups he did not recognise as locals, including anti-wind farm activist Sarah Laurie from the Waubra Foundation, based in South Australia.

Mr Poile said he believed there would be about an even number of local submissions both for and against the project, and he doubted the meeting would result in conflict.

"I don't think it would get heated because basically everybody knows what everybody's on about,'' he said. ''I don't see that there would be any great surprises.''

"I just hope it's over by Christmas one way or another."

The meeting will be at Collector Memorial Hall from 4pm on Tuesday and again from 9am on Wednesday.

68 comments

  • Well now, is he going to sue Qantas for the distant jet rumble that annoys him, is he going to sue Linfox for the trucks that use exhaust brakes on the Hume within distant earshot, is he going to sue the neighbour who spends the day with a chainsaw getting wood for the winter because the noise annoys him? Is he going to sue the neighbour who has a few more weeds than he'd like and therefore by definition has a substantial and measurable effect on his own weed-perfect property? And so on. Good luck with any legal action, he'll just be pissing into the pockets of lawyers, only too glad to soak up his hard-earned cash.

    Commenter
    John D
    Location
    Collector
    Date and time
    October 29, 2013, 12:08AM
    • Valuation reports show that land values increase because of the lease payments. Just use the profits to hire your own lawyers. Hooray, more lawyers

      Commenter
      Franky
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 9:06AM
    • I see that you have high levels of compassion for fellow Australians and can clearly differentiate between normal activities of modern life - an irrational concerns over things that might interfere with peaceful enjoyment of private property ownership.

      Your analogy of an airport is fundamentally flawed: a) airports do not operate 24x7 as a wind farm will and b) the landowner chose not to buy a property under an existing flight path.

      Had he purchased a property next to a wind farm and decided to complain afterwards: tough luck. If you buy a property under a flight path and then complain: tough luck

      But he did NOT invest AFTER to the proposed wind farm and he has a moral AND HOPEFULLY LEGAL right to defend himself against a disturbance that may cause him distress, anxiety or insomnia - and it for these reasons, many people will not buy his property off him.

      Put yourself in his shoes - everybody except him gets compensated - at the root of the issue is a simple principle: it isn't fair.

      Commenter
      Halcyon Ford
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 10:03AM
    • +1

      Commenter
      Spot On
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 12:05PM
    • I would countersue for lost income from their objection to me deriving legal income from my property, opposition based in miths and heresay.
      I wonder which legal action has a greater chance to be successful?

      Commenter
      Alex
      Location
      SYD
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 1:06PM
    • Canberra Airport operates 24/7.
      Next?

      Commenter
      IrishPete
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 9:02PM
  • Group hysteria and selfish thuggery will get in the way of a healthy future for our children.
    There is absolutely NO scientific evidence linking turbines with human pathology. This is more misinformation for the misguided, and easily-led in our Australian communities.

    Commenter
    D Murphy
    Date and time
    October 29, 2013, 1:53AM
    • Just because there is no "scientific" link between wind turbines and human pathology doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Scientists have long been denying that we have Lyme disease in this country despite the fact that it is caused by ticks, which we have in abundance. All the denials just make it hard for people to get treatment or to have their health issues taken seriously.

      Commenter
      Anon
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 4:04PM
  • Partners in crime should be sued and even jailed. Lease holders are part of an industry has be lying to the public for decades. Some of the more notable problems with wind energy are: (1) that they use mortality survey methodologies (including statistical sampling methods) to hide over 90% of their mortality, (2) that most turbine mortality to protected species is not being reported (e.g. the thousands of unreported eagles killed in Texas and Scandinavia ) (3) that this industry deliberately avoids meaningful studies, (4) that they use deceptive and even fraudulent biological site evaluations, (5) that they put their turbines in some locations that are completely unforgivable, (6) that they have ignored the of development of bird safe turbines or even an acknowledgment that these turbines pose a very serious problem to bird and bats, (7) that they destroy view sheds and cause the fragmentation of habitats like no other industry (9) that their turbines have a mortality footprint that extends several thousand miles from every single wind turbine, (10) that his industry demands the use of gag orders so impacts can remain hidden, (11) that this industry relies upon agency collusion and "voluntary regulations", (11) that this industry's claim to be green or eco-friendly when their turbines will result in the extinction of many species, and (12) that his industry could not survive if taxpayers would not allow politicians to steal their tax dollars and hand them to this industry.............. These are bad folks indeed

    Commenter
    Jim Wiegand
    Date and time
    October 29, 2013, 2:27AM
    • Jim time to take off the foil hat and join the real world.

      Commenter
      Robert
      Location
      Central Coast
      Date and time
      October 29, 2013, 8:42AM

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