Wind farm set back

08 Mar, 2013 01:00 AM

THE $400 million Flat Rocks Wind Farm proposal has hit a bump in the road after the Great Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) rejected its application at a meeting last week.

The application for Moonies Hill Energy to install 44 wind turbines in the Broomehill-Tambellup shire was denied after the panel disclosed its concerns over the possible effects turbines might have on farming practices and questioned whether the wind farm would bring any tangible benefits to the community.

Kojonup farmer Roger Bilney raised the issues of interference with aerial spraying, noise and subsequent health impacts and the lack of community support for the project at the meeting.

He said the decision acknowledged the impact wind farms had on agricultural activities and at long last the concerns of the proposed project's neighbours had been listened to.

Latro Lawyers, who represented Mr Bilney at the meeting, said Moonies Hill Energy's plan failed to address a number of key issues.

"Essentially there was no investigation into the effect of placing turbines in close proximity to rural property boundaries," Latro director Cameron Syme said.

"What is an acceptable buffer zone in farming communities must be investigated further, especially in light of the problems experienced in communities such as Waterloo in South Australia.

"The WA guidelines for wind farms are grossly inadequate and don't accommodate recent research, especially the effects of infrasound levels in a rural environment."

Growers in the area, Alan and Narelle Goodall also expressed major concerns about the possible health implications and said wind farms continued to be forced on rural communities without proper understanding or research into the impact they might have on health.

On November 23, 2011, the Kojonup shire council unanimously approved stage one of the Flat Rocks Wind Farm project which proposed 30 turbines and an electrical sub-station be built in the Kojonup shire.

The project was first broached in 2009 but was met with opposition from a number of farmers in the region who were concerned about potential health effects and logistical impacts on their businesses.

In August last year, Mr Bilney said modern wind farm technology had out-paced local planning capacity and there had been little or no consultation from Moonies Hill Energy regarding the proposed plan.

But that comment was met with opposition from Moonies Hill Energy director Sarah Rankin who told Farm Weekly there had in fact been a wide range of community consultation throughout the planning phase.

Ms Rankin said this week that the company was assessing its options as to whether or not it would appeal the decision by the Great Southern JDAP.

Ms Rankin said the company was surprised by the decision as there was a precedence set in WA for wind farms to be compatible with farming and rural zones as there have been in rural shires.

Ms Rankin said Emu Downs, Walkaway, Merredin and Kojonup were clear examples of that.

"The State planning strategy which has recently been put out clearly states that there is potential for wind farms in WA as a major contribution to the electricity for the State," Ms Rankin said.

"The decision is not based on any real consistency with the requirement on traditional broadacre farming zones and the impact to carry on traditional farming."

Ms Rankin said the company was not yet aware why the proposal was knocked back.

The company has 28 days to appeal.

"We don't know what it was based on," she said.

"Moonies Hill submitted an extensive environmental impact report which showed that there was no effect on neighbours or properties in terms of their ability to continue broadacre farming.

"Wind farms are of great benefit to the district, in fact the Flat Rocks wind farm project will inject $130 million into the local economy over the life of the project."

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Gail Beaufort
8/03/2013 8:00:01 AM, on Farm Weekly

A wind farm is a power station. Industrialiasation of prime rural land has a large impact for everyone who lives and works in there.
8/03/2013 1:29:42 PM, on Farm Weekly

I wonder if the people complaining would rather have a coal seam gas project on their properties instead? Has no one been watching the News, floods, fires and weather experts telling us that we need to cut back on CO2 emissions. Bring on the wind farm!
8/03/2013 8:16:16 PM, on Farm Weekly

Ummm larry, if they actually cut co2emmissions that would be great, but seems that the coal generators have to keep running nearly at full power so that we can still have electricity when the wind stops blowing.
Sarina Doudle
8/03/2013 8:29:18 PM, on Farm Weekly

Wind turbines are the most expensive form of power generation and are subsidized to a great extent. Do you want to take the risk of having one near you and experience motion sickness 24/7? The ones in Europe are a fraction of the size of the ones built in Australia and don't have the same disturbing effect on the atmosphere. Not near me thanks. If its so good, put it in the city and see what the community says.
8/03/2013 9:30:35 PM, on Farm Weekly

Wind farms need to be set back from neighbours' boundaries a few kms at LEAST so that everyone can farm as they wish. Windfarms still require back up power( coal or gas) coz when the wind don't blow you don't get power. It costs up to $ 500,000 per turbine per year subsidised by taxpayers.' Good neighbour' policies are essential. These are in place in recent windfarms and make for better neighbours!
9/03/2013 6:19:44 AM, on Farm Weekly

Congratulations are in order to the Great Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel for a decision that recognises that impacts are being had from Industrial Wind Turbine Developments and that more research is needed before any more industrial wind turbines are built that would envitably destroy another rural community.
Gail Beaufort
10/03/2013 12:51:04 PM, on Farm Weekly

Anyone watching the news would know that in the Eastern states the impact on rural communities led the Victorian government to introduce mandatory 2 kilometre setbacks from homes in an effort to protect neighbours from the adverse effects of turbine noise. WA regulations are so outdated in face of new huge projects such as Dandaragan which will have 151 turbines almost as high as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
10/03/2013 2:50:48 PM, on Farm Weekly

I also wonder about bees which are Affected by magnetic fields compliments of wind turbines. The wind industry has not proven to be successful but costly and inefficient requiring backup from coal or gas. Surely some other forms of renewables would be better than something having backup 24/7. These are industrial CO2 emission built complexes and calling them farms is an insult to farmers.
open minded
11/03/2013 10:47:35 AM, on Farm Weekly

Finally some intelligence on the issue, based on the latest available information. Wind power has only been successful where constant wind is generated at low levels so that smaller sails and turbines are required. This reduces base load requirements, minimises negative health impacts and alters the footprint of each turbine including support infrastructure such as roads, power plant & high voltage cables. Oh - and they're community owned so that locals are employed and money earned on power generation goes back into the local economy for maintenance, upgrades and community development.
11/03/2013 1:14:48 PM, on Farm Weekly

We are paying for an industry that honestly does not bring enough power into a community. Most turbines are owned by a development company not locals and they only employ a few engineers when completed. They also cause CO2 emissions with their construction and destruction of the environment with roads, landscape, flora and fauna. See how much it is costing governments to subsidise these mechanical machines. Geothermal or some other form of renewable energy is far better than the controversy over wind turbines with peer-reviewed evidence that they cause problems.
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