A recommendation to approve construction of 77 turbines as part of the Crudine Ridge Wind Farm has pitted neighbour against neighbour in the Pyramul district.
The divided community filled the village hall on Wednesday where residents delivered their opposing views on the project that was recommended for approval by the Department of Planning and Environment in December.
Twenty-three speakers addressed the Planning Assessment Commission – an independent body that will make a final determination on the project.
The majority were opposed to the plan, among their concerns; noise and the potential impacts of infrasound – low frequency sound – and its links to disruptive sleep.
Third-generation farmer Andrew Hundy told the commission a wind turbine noise simulation at his home demonstrated that the audible noise could be heard over the “considerable sound of crickets chirping on a September evening”.
A number of the proposed 160 metre turbines will be visible from Mr Hundy’s property near Sallys Flat.
He said he was advised to keep large trees around the home to mask the noise and keep windows shut at night to assist in decreasing sleep disturbances.
“Our nearest neighbours are kilometres away, we don’t even have privacy glass in our bathrooms, but we need to close our windows to help us sleep?” he said.
“The Department of Planning’s position is that they [health impacts] don’t exist, however the recent senate inquiry into wind farms has shown there is enough evidence to show a link between wind farms and adverse health, even if it is persistent annoyance leading to bad health. Not every person exposed to asbestos has contracted the associated cancer, not everybody who gets on a boat will get seasick, not everybody who lives near a wind turbine will have symptoms or get sick, but some do. Isn’t there some level of responsibility to find out why?”
Others noted the visual impact of the 52-storey towers and the possible devaluation to their properties, limitations on future subdivisions and environmental impacts.
They questioned whether hosts would allow turbines to be installed on their farms if large financial incentives weren’t available.”
“Take the subsidies off the table and we would all be fighting together,” Alison Cashen said.
But those in favour of the project, including Brendan Cole who will host turbines on his property, said the community stands to benefit.
He said the financial contributions would allow him to fund necessary infrastructure on his farm and employ more people.
“Health issues related to wind farms have been largely discounted,” he told the meeting.
He said renewable energy was the way of the future.
Fourth generation Pyramul farmer Ellwyn Croake said the community was “already dying” with a lack of services and social events.
He said a new industry could renew the area and provide employment for fencing, earth moving and weed spraying contractors.
“The advantages outweigh the disadvantages,” he said.
“Please consider the benefits for the whole society in years to come.”
A deadline has not been set for the PAC’s determination.