Opponents of wind farm prepared to fight against 'appalling' decision

OPPONENTS of the 42-turbine wind farm approved for Flyers Creek south of Orange on Monday are determined to continue their fight, despite an endorsement of wind farms from the Australian Medical Association and the Flyers Creek project by a local environmental group. 

A spokesperson for objectors said it was still a long way from being built, despite planning approval.

Patina Schneider, who lives in the area, said the Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) had ignored guidelines which would leave it “out on a limb.”

“We are fighting a corrupt system, it’s appalling for PAC to approve this when it doesn’t meet the guidelines,” she said.

The commission approved all but one turbine, including several sited within a two-kilometre recommended buffer from dwellings, because it was satisfied the proponent Infigen Energy could manage noise and vibration issues from the 150-metre-high generators.

A Planning and Infrastructure spokesman said the buffer could be encroached with the permission of the landholder or when the project went through an additional assessment process.

Ms Schneider also dismissed a statement from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) that said there was no evidence wind farms harmed people’s health.

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AMA public health committee chairman Professor Geoffry Dobb said all the available Australian and international evidence did not support the view that infrasound and low-frequency sound emitted by wind generators caused adverse health effects.

“The regulation of wind farm developments should be guided entirely by the evidence regarding their impacts and benefits,” he said.

“People living near wind farms who experience adverse health or wellbeing may well do so because of heightened anxiety or negative perceptions about wind farms.”

However Ms Schneider said the AMA should examine the experience of people who had complained to their doctors and lodged complaints with councils where wind farms have been established.

“None of these people have visited people who have been impacted, I have,” she said.

“Children can’t sleep, they can’t go to school and learn.

“There have been hundreds of documented complaints about the Capital Wind Farm (near Lake George). Children don’t perceive heightened anxiety.”

Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange (ECCO) president Nick King said ECCO had made a submission to PAC supporting the wind farm project.

He said ECCO had to balance the objections of some residents to wind as a source of renewable energy against coal-fired power stations, which had very damaging consequences for the environment and human health.

The opponents of the Flyers Creek project would meet to consider legal challenges against landowners and the NSW government, Mrs Schneider said. 

Infigen holds landholders to binding contracts

INFIGEN Energy intends to enforce what it says is a binding contract with three landholders in the Flyers Creek district who have waivered in their support for a planned wind farm.

Infigen Energy manager of development Jonathan Upson said he was confident the project would go ahead despite doubts about the continuing support of the landholders and claims from Flyers Creek opponents that the route of a high voltage powerline had not been agreed to by landholders.

“We are confident we can negotiate a route and we are very confident we can demonstrate (to the department of planning) we have the contracts in place to build the project,” he said.

It is a condition of the approval that Infigen demonstrate within 12 months it has access arrangements in place for construction and operation of the project.

He said concerns raised by objectors that wind farm towers would be left on the landscape at the end of their 25-year life were unfounded. 

Infigen would be bound by a decommissioning bond. That bond would transfer to any new owner, but Infigen had no plans to sell the project, he said.

“Obviously everything is for sale. If someone offered us $100 million we’d sell, but it’s not our intention to sell the project,” he said.

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