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Frustration Over Wind Farm Limbo

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A photomontage from Niagara Road looking west, taken from AGL's Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment

Wind Farm Proposal Splits The Community

The controversial Coopers Gap proposal has led to the formation of two local action groups: the Cooranga North Concerned Citizens Group and the Cooper’s Gap Windpower Supporters Group.

SBRC Mayor Wayne Kratzmann told the ABC today it had split the community, turning neighbour against neighbour.

CNCCG spokesman Bryan Lyons says there are “turbine hosts” who are “for” the project (these are the people who have agreed to have turbines placed on their land).

Then there are the “neighbours” who are “against” the project (people whose land adjoins turbine properties). Mr Lyons says nearly all the neighbours are members of the CNCCG.

He also claims that the majority of people speaking in favour of the project (other than the “hosts”) either don’t live in the immediate area or are absent from their land for long periods.

He says the CNCCG has 52 members who all live in the near vicinity of the wind farm, and the majority within 3km of turbines.

October 10, 2012

The lingering question mark over which authority – the State Government or the South Burnett Regional Council – will assess the application to build a wind farm at Coopers Gap is causing frustration for both opponents and fans of the the proposal.

And Council would love to know, too.

AGL wants to build a 350MW wind farm in two stages at Coopers Gap, situated between Dalby and Kingaroy.

Bryan Lyons, a spokesman for the Cooranga North Concerned Citizens Group,  told southburnett.com.au the South Burnett Regional Council was keen to be the assessment manager.

But South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann said this isn’t quite true.

“We’re dead keen on finding out who will make the final decision,” he said.

And for this reason, South Burnett councillors have sought a meeting with Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney on October 30 to find out more information.

In August last year, Coopers Gap Wind Farm project manager Adam Mackett told SBBiz that AGL hoped to gain planning approval “through the legislative process”, implying a State Government decision.

In April this year, Cr Cheryl Dalton said she believed AGL could be seeking Community Infrastructure Designation for the project. If it achieved this status, the planning process would then go straight to the State Government rather than the local council.

But in May, Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said the State Government had no mechanisms in place at present  to assess wind farm developments.

“Currently the State Government is co-ordinating a review of the planning process, encompassed within that will be the problems around evaluating wind farms,” she said.

Mayor Kratzmann said he could understand the frustrations of the Concerned Citizens group because no one could give them an answer.

He also understood the concerns of the landowners who had agreed to have turbines placed on their land as they had also been left in limbo.

Cr Kratzmann said the problem was there was no criteria established for deciding on wind farm applications.

“Should there be a moratorium on wind farms until that happens?” he asked.

Local residents are also concerned about the size of the turbine towers (Photo: AGL)

A meeting of the Cooranga North Concerned Citizens Group held at Kumbia on September 13 voted to no longer participate in the community consultation process about the project set up by AGL.

Bryan Lyons said the CNCCG  believed the consultation committee was not “representative”.

He said only two CNCCG members were allowed to take part although they “represented 90 per cent of the people living around the proposed wind farm”; other members could sit in the gallery at meetings but were restricted in how much they could take part.

The committee also included two turbine hosts, two AGL representatives, a representative from each of the South Burnett and Western Downs regional councils, Mal Collinge  from the Bunya Mountains Elders Council, plus a facilitator.

“After three meetings, we decided AGL was using it to promote the project rather than consult about our concerns,” he said.

And the CNCCG has several concerns:

  • Proximity of the turbines to houses – Mr Lyons says the turbines will be as close as 1.4km, within the 2km limit fixed by legislation elsewhere in Australia;
  • Noise levels – Mr Lyons says AGL is proposing a 40dBA limit outside houses;
  • Health concerns – the group has testimonies from families in other parts of Australia who have been forced to move away from turbines on or near their properties

Mr Lyons also believes the community has no idea of the size of the towers.

“Imagine those high voltage powerline towers … they will be four times the height of that. And the outside tip of the rotors can be moving at around 200km/h,” he said.

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2 Responses to Frustration Over Wind Farm Limbo

  1. I have already stated my support for this project and continue to do so. Here are some links relating to wind farms that are pertinent.

    http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/wrong-turbine-noise-admit-protesters/story-13713002-detail/story.html

    and Wind Energy – Myths and Facts

    The sooner this project can get started the better for all concerned.

    Grant Newson – Deputy Convener Toowoomba Regional and Rural Greens

  2. Shane

    Get a grip people: windfarms are harmless! There’s several in WA with animals living an breed happily under and around them. Have a look at the toxic smoke that lingers for 50+ km above coal-fired power stations.