The Senate wind inquiry has been told of extraordinary damage to brain and physical function of humans, kelpies and ewes. The men taking these claims seriously are being asked by Tony Abbott to help seal the fate of Australia’s renewable energy industry.
How dangerous are wind farms? According to Hamish Officer, who lives with his wife and children within 800 meters of five of the 140 turbines on the Macarthur wind farm in Victoria, if they were as bad as some people were making out, we might all be making and eating pavlovas.
“Our chooks lay normal eggs with yolks and whites despite assurances from some that they would start laying eggs without yolks,” Officer wrote in a submission to the latest Senate inquiry into wind farms. This, he said, had put “a serious dent in my plan to open a bakery specializing in Pavlova.”
Facetious? Definitely. Even Officer says so in his submission. But that’s because this is the 10th inquiry into wind farms in five years, and still there is no scientific evidence that wind farms do much more than reduce the profits of coal-fired generators and cut greenhouse gas and other emissions.
No scientific evidence maybe, but plenty of anecdotal clams.
Take this, for instance, from Rikkie Nicholson, an electrician and a self-described “wind factory refugee” from Pacific Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater wind farm.
Nicholson says the effects of wind turbines are “horrific and disturbing.” He told the inquiry that simple tasks such as putting in screws in door handles, tap washers, lubrication of door hinges, filling mouse bait stations and throwing a ball with his son—were “physically impossible to do when this industrial complex is operating.”
Nicholson told the inquiry he had been able to complete a Sudoku puzzle when travelling to Geelong, but struggled to complete them when at home and near the turbines. Even the dog was affected – the family’s kelpie needs to be lifted into their station wagon when the wind turbines were operating. But, when on holidays, the kelpie “could jump into my four-wheel drive after being only a week away from the turbines.”
Glenthompson residents Bill and Sandy Rogerson said the 32-turbine Oaklands Hill Wind Farm had caused an increase in the number of deformed lambs, and sent the lambing rate of their merino stock down to 37 per cent from 85 per cent.
Officer wonders why – if such experiences were rampant and real – were there not thousands of people marching in protest against wind farms in Australia, or for that matter in Europe, the Americas and Asia, where even more capacity has been installed.
But if the tales of tribulation from some wind farm residents have not captured the imagination of their neighbours or the general population, they certainly have captured the imagination of the Senators heading this inquiry, with the blessing and support of the Abbott Coalition government.
As RenewEconomy has pointed out before, in this piece on Tony Abbott’s wind energy witch-hunt, most of the committee members have already made up their mind on the issue.
Two, Senators John Madigan and Bob Day, don’t believe that too much Co2 in the atmosphere is a bad thing. Coalition Senator Chris Back says wind turbines have adverse health impacts from as far as 10kms away, particularly on ewes and cows that become “very agitated and will leave their offspring in fits of panic if they are in the vicinity of operating turbines.”
Another Coalition Senator, Mike Cannavan, says Australia already has too much renewable energy.
Why is this important?
Because right now, the Coalition government is negotiating with these very Senators to strike a deal to slash the renewable energy target, far below even the 33,500GWh compromise target offered by the Clean Energy Council and supported by Labor.
Industry Minister wants a figure of no more than 32,000GWh, and preferably a lot less. He is hopeful he can get the agreement of six cross-bench Senators needed. And one of those, Jacqui Lambie, issued a statement today saying she is on board.
Another of those Senators, who also sits on the inquiry, is David Leyonhjelm, who on Friday repeated his plan to give subsidies instead to hydro schemes that were built by state governments decades ago.
“The only losers would be the major wind-energy generators, which are eagerly waiting to build dozens of new wind farms in an effort to meet the target and get on the subsidy gravy trai” he wrote in the Australian Financial Review on Friday.
“Against that, many people are hoping these are never built, among them those who suffer adverse health effects from the inaudible infrasound they generate, plus those (like me) who hate to see our majestic eagles and hawks splattered all over the countryside.”
It seems Leyonhjelm and Back – not to mention the others – have already reached their own scientific conclusions. This is despite yet another study – this time from Canada’s Council of Canadian Academies – saying that the only impact that could be considered proven from wind farms was annoyances, and an associate lack of sleep.
As Officer notes in his submission: It would be funny if it was not so serious.
“Why are country people having the chance to make a living in an industry that produces clean electricity taken away by their elected officials who have created such an unstable investment environment in the large scale renewable sector that nothing is being built?
“This bastardisation of the RET goes beyond wind energy to all large scale renewable energy projects at a time when we as a nation are crying out for infrastructure projects that will allow us to remain prosperous and competitive into the future.”