THERE was a time when approval for a wind farm capable of powering all the homes in Orange, Bathurst and Blayney would have been met with applause.
The prospect of giant wind-driven generators delivering clean renewable energy was the way of the future, with no downside, save perhaps for the visual impact on a ridge in a rural setting.
But this week’s approval of the Flyers Creek Wind Farm, the largest in this area but far from the largest in Australia, has been met with claims that the health and well-being of scores of people will suffer, their property values will plummet and their sense of community will be destroyed.
This reaction has become an increasingly common one as more wind farms are commissioned and some of those who have lived in the proximity of a wind farm for some time become more vocal in their opposition.
The biggest sticking point is the bitter argument over whether wind farms and the low frequency sounds and vibrations they create can damage people’s health.
The Australian Medical Association this week said no, there was simply no evidence wind farms are a health hazard.
Recently the National Health and Medical Research Council delivered a similar finding on the available evidence, although it added the important caveat that quality research needed to be done to test the anecdotal evidence of those who complained of ill-effects.
Then there is the question of whether wind farms, which cannot store electricity and feed the grid according to the whims of Mother Nature, are the green solution to greenhouse gas emission they are held up to be.
One thing is certain, the vocal opponents of wind farms are not going to go away.
Those who object on health grounds will never have their concerns either proven or laid to rest until vigorous, long-term, scientific research is conducted.
Those studies should be going on now and keeping pace with developments in the industry.