South Gippsland
Victoria, Australia



Your Say!

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Tom Reakes - Letter to Senator Campbell
Anna & Rudi Jung. Letter to Editor. Newspaper article.
Kathy & Wayne Lynch. Letter to Editor. 
Peter Stone.  Statement of concern.
Tom  Reakes. Statement of concern.
Sue Reakes. Letter to Wellington Council.
Tad & Elizabeth Heibert. Letter to C.Spitzner, Synergy Wind Pty Ltd.
Tom Reakes. Letter to proposed windfarm property owners, the Hellerens.
Tom Reakes. Letter to Rob Hulls, Vic.Parliament.
Tad & Elizabeth Heibert. Letter to Wellington Shire Councillors.

Tom Reakes, Bolgers Rod, Devon North
Letter to Senator Ian Campbell, (Federal) Minister for the Environment.
5 May 2006.

Dear Senator Campbell,

 I read with great interest your recent involvement in the Bald Hills windfarm decision. I applaud that decision as a victory for the residents of the district, the visitors to the area, and, of course, the parrot.
Devon North is an expansive district situated 5-12 kms west of Yarram in southern Gippsland, Victoria. The area around where is proposed to locate nine turbines is a mixture of farmland, bush, and pine plantation. The turbines will be on a farmer’s hill overlooking an exquisitely stunning creek valley. The home sites in the immediate vicinity (within a kilometre) are largely small to medium sized blocks.
There are a couple of operational farms, from which is derived a living. The rest are farmlets and gardens starting as small as ¾ acre. My own property is ¾ acre with 2 acres leased creek frontage. It is fair to say that people have come to the area to enjoy a tree change, tranquillity, and to soak up the beauty of the area. There are a couple of recent re-locators from the city who have planned to build homes and retire to the loveliness that is Devon North.
All of this is, of course, under great threat from these proposed turbines being placed in our ‘backyards’. For a number of us the turbines are about 500metres away. I presently have a favourite spot in my garden in which I like to sit. As I do, I look upon my beautiful garden, across the Stony Creek, up the hill, and can watch the peaceful rural scene of cows on the hilltop silhouetted against the setting sun. It is truly beautiful. This breath-taking scene is about to be engulfed by nine huge white monsters, just 500 metres from where I sit.
However, at least, if I manoeuvre myself I will probably be able to position one of the huge yellow box between myself and a turbine, momentarily blocking my view. I don’t know for how long I could maintain that position! But, for example, my next neighbours, who are in the process of building their retirement home will have no such choice. Looking out of their main living area, which is comprised of floor-to-ceiling glass, they will be confronted every day for the rest of their lives with the hideous sight of these turbines marring their
present stunning outlook, the reason they bought there in the first place. And that story is repeated many times along the road.
We don’t have orange-bellied parrots. We do have Wedge-tailed Eagles and, I’m told, Masked and Powerful Owls. I don’t know that they will be our saviours and I’m not sure I want them to be. This issue has to be won not only so there is a better outcome for the environment but, as equally important, for the well-being of people: those individuals who, right across this country, are faced with the prospect of having to live with these things in their immediate environment, spoiling amenity, property values, social, psychological and, even, physical well-being.
Senator, I support your call for a national guideline/programme/understanding (whatever you call it) for carefully planned consideration as to the placement of turbines. I’m concerned that the Victorian Government is hell-bent on getting as many of these things installed as possible. It makes them look good with certain sections of the voting electorate and on the international ‘green scene’, but it places little importance on the well-being of people in Gippsland who are, politically speaking, of no value. Oh, I do hope that’s not true, but this
whole issue has made me quite cynical.
My concerns are shared, I know, by my neighbours who are immediately affected by this proposal. I have no hesitation in speaking on their behalf; we have become a very close-knit community because of this. One positive, at least. Peter McGauran has graciously agreed to look over the site and has indicated that he will make representation to the Wellington Shire to support our case. We expect his visit in June. 
Senator Campbell, as the Minister for Environment and Heritage,  we would welcome your involvement in this matter and ask if you might also find time to come to South Gippsland and meet with us, have a look at the site, and listen to the concerns of the people. I stress, we are definitely not anti-renewable energy but, we do want to see a right and just approach in placing these turbines. Would you please come?
Yours sincerely,
Tom Reakes.

Tom Reakes, Bolgers Road, Devon North.
I, Tom Reakes, of 571 Bolger’s Road, Devon North, live directly beneath the shadow of the proposed wind turbines. I live here with my wife, Susan, daughter, Laura and grandson, Dylan. We have been here for thirteen years. We came from suburban Melbourne looking for a tree-change and a better quality of life. We believe we have found it.
I am strongly and passionately opposed to the construction of these turbines as I believe they will severely intrude on my quality of living, (and that of my friends and neighbours) and impose on the beauty and tranquillity of the region. I also have serious doubts as to their efficacy in lessening the need for brown coal use in the La Trobe Valley and therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I absolutely do not oppose the search for and implementation of alternative energy sources. I do believe that they should not be in the ‘backyards’ of ordinary residential households. Not just mine, anybody’s.  I do not see why individuals should lose significant value of their home/investment whilst others make a financial killing. This to me is abhorrent and immoral.
Further, I would state that this proposal has gone all the way to seeking planning permission from the Wellington Shire and not one representative of Synergy Wind Pty. Ltd. has consulted with either myself or my wife. This is contrary to the press releases/comments made by Synergy. It is fraudulent and deceptive when that company says that they have consulted with local residents. It simply has not happened.
There has been one point of contact via phone, with my wife, seeking permission to place noise testing equipment on our property. Nothing else was said on that occasion. We did receive an introductory letter dated 7.9.2005, many months after the 50 metre testing tower was erected. It mentioned the project being in the conceptual stage and that “this is the first in a series of letters we will be sending to the local community..” A second letter, in response to some questions we raised, was sent on 9.11.2005. There has been no other contact, no more written correspondence, and certainly no consultation.
I might also add that I sent a letter to the Attorney General, Mr Rob Hulls, looking for his help and input on the 12.3.2005. I have heard nothing back. This present government is not sympathetic to the concerns of ordinary residents in this issue, particularly in a blue ribbon National seat – we have no political value to them. They seem only concerned with quotas (1,000megawatts of alternative energy), green votes, and, probably, carbon credits.
I would appeal to anyone who might read this: consider the ramifications of these things, seek the truth, know the facts. If we don’t stand up against this legalised vandalism then these hideous monstrosities will be seen all across our beautiful Gippsland landscape (and elsewhere). It won’t be just my backyard --- it could be yours, too.
12 April 2006

Tom Reakes.
12 March 2006.
Email to: 'rob.hulls@parliament.vic.gov.au'  (Mr Rob Hulls, Attorney General, Minister for Environment)
Subject: Devon North wind turbines

My name is Tom Reakes. I live (along with my wife, daughter and grandson) in a rather idyllic part of Gippsland some ten kilometres west of Yarram. We enjoy rolling hills, kookaburras, koalas, eagles….. and tranquillity. The latter is under serious threat from the menace of nine 70 metre high wind turbines that a little-known German company, Synergy Wind P/L, proposes to place on a hill about 500 metres behind our backdoor.
I am seriously opposed to the placement of these ‘wind factories’ for a number of reasons. In the first instance, and I must be frank, I do not believe that wind turbines achieve a great deal in terms of saving green house gas emissions. I’m sure you’ve heard the arguments and will not burden you with them here. I only mention it because I’m not going to be dishonest and pretend that I’m in favour of them, and if this was my only objection I would probably remain a vocal opponent.
My greatest concern is the social impact that these turbines are going to have directly on those people who live within their shadow. There are a significant number of residences within a 400 – 1000 metre radius of their proposed location. Not only will property values be markedly affected, but the visual and aural impact of them is simply not acceptable. I can safely say that all the residents – none of which are anything more than hobby farmers or gardeners – came here following a dream and looking for a tree change; a life of peace and quiet and beauty. They all are strongly opposed to the construction of these towers. They are simply not conducive to the ambience
of the area, or to the dreams we all look to see become a reality. It is a cause of great frustration and angst to myself, and other residents, that big business and government policy can conspire to so offensively intrude into the lives of ordinary individuals and families.
Why must these things be placed in what is, in the main, a residential area? If they must go up, why not in area where they do not affect or offend residents? I appeal to you, Mr Hulls, in your official capacity, to bring pressure to bear on those who make these life-changing, even life-shattering, decisions to seriously reconsider their position in regard to wind turbines and their appropriate placement. 
Furthermore, I ask that the whole issue of wind-generated power be more closely examined and other alternative and consistent forms of energy production be researched. Australia has time to do the research because, in the short to medium term, nothing we do to lower green house gas emissions makes a blind bit of difference in terms of the global picture. Not while countries like the USA, Japan, China, India etc. continue to consume energy at a rate which makes ours look like a spit in the ocean. Australia can get it right and make a difference in the long term by leading the world in the right kind of renewable energy production.
But for now I ask you to look at the very real and worrying plight of some ordinary, decent folk in beautiful South Gippsland. Please.
Sincerely yours,
Tom Reakes.

February 2006. From Tad and Elizabeth Heibert. 

Dear (Councillor, by name),
Subject: Proposed Yarram Wind Farm
We are a middle-aged couple who plan to retire in the near future, and we have built a dream house on a beautiful 5-acre property in Devon North.
Having grown tired of noisy and hectic city life, we made a decision (in the year 2000) to look for a peaceful country property where we could build our retirement home. In around July 2000, we found a 5-acre block at Bolgers Rd. Devon North. We immediately fell in love with the beautiful views and peaceful surroundings of the place. It was the perfect location to build our dream retirement home. 
At the beginning of 2002, we started building this dream house. Because of our modest financial means, we did most of the building ourselves. 
When the house was near its completion, we were informed of some devastating news. Our next-door neighbours (the O’Hallaran’s) came to see us, informing us that they intended to allow the development of a wind turbine farm on their 300-acre property. 
This news completely devastated us. The O’Hallarans will profit financially from the development of this wind farm, but it will be at our expense (as well as at the expense of other surrounding residents). It has been estimated that our property will be devalued by as much as 40%. Is it fair for one person in the community to prosper significantly at the expense of another? It is particularly distressing for us, considering the great financial and emotional investment we put into building our dream retirement home. 
When we applied for a town-planning permit (T.T.P.) to build our retirement home, there was major concern from your planning department whether our development would cause “material detriment” to other people in the area. In the proposed wind farm, some wind turbines will be only 400 – 600 meters from our home. This is the only wind farm proposal that places turbines so close to many residential properties. Surely, the close proximity of such wind turbines to our house should cause grave concern about the possible “material detriment” it may cause to us (especially given that the Shire of Wellington is so concerned about this issue). 
However, the biggest concern we have regarding the proposed wind farm is the 24-hour a day noise that we will have to endure. Because the wind turbines will be so close to our home, we will have to endure unprecedented levels of noise that could lead to high levels of physical and emotional distress. We think it’s important to remember that a community is made up of individuals, and the wellbeing of a community also depends on the wellbeing of individuals. 
This is the first wind farm proposal in the shire of Wellington. Perhaps you might think that the people opposing the development of such wind farms are whingers, who do not understand the benefits of green energy. Firstly, we would like to say that we are supporters of green energy. We simply believe that the location of the Yarram Wind Farm is completely unsuitable. If wind farms start popping up in unsuitable places all over the Shire of Wellington, you will find that your time in office will be terminated very quickly. You have to remember that your job is primarily to protect the interests of ratepayers. Indeed, it was on this basis that you were elected to office.

We believe that Synergy approached the Shire Officers regarding the matter of the proposed wind farm, and received a positive response. This disappoints us greatly, as we firmly believe that the location of the wind farm is completely inappropriate, and will have harmful effects on us and other residents.
In closing, we wish to say that we very much hope that you will show us (and other residents) some compassion and sympathy, and vote against the wind farm proposal, on the grounds that the location is unsuitable. We believe that this wind farm will have severe adverse effects on us and other residents. Please listen to our pleas. It is important that you protect the wellbeing of individuals that make up our community. 

Peter Stone & family. 
Ingles Road, Devon North. 
I came to Yarram with my partner Wendy in 1989, and lived in town, at the Federal Coffee Palace. Soon after our son was born in 1999, we realised that a small rural property would be ideal for Sam to grow up with and we bought an ordinary residence on just under two acres on Ingles Road. It was an ideal location for us - just ten minutes from Yarram, surrounded by hills and paddocks, birds, cows, and the occasional echidna and koala - and we have marvellous neighbours who are, I would hope to presume, our friends. Over the years we turned our ordinary home into what we prefered, extending considerably, and rendering the whole place. This was our quiet place on earth. Having travelled extensively as a photo journalist, I knew Australia well and I have to conclude that South Gippsland is a wonderful place to live and to bring up our son. 
Our self-imposed wellbeing was somewhat disrupted when advised by our neighbours that they were proposing a windfarm. Our initial reaction was one of 'good on you' as we appreciated the financial security that such a proposal would bring. We were somewhat nonchalant about how it would affect us and agreed that we didn't want to be whingers about what we thought at the time was a great way to provide renewable energy. We had seen the Toora windfarms of course and marvelled at their size and enjoyed our son's pleasure at seeing the 'Telletubby' windmills. We were not going to be NIMBYs - no way. Sure, the skyline would be broken by these enormous white seventy-metre towers, but we could live with that. And if we weren't planning to sell immediately, the immediate drop in our land value was not so critical. 
It did not take long before I started to take a greater interest in wind energy, and as I did so, initially on the internet, then reading government and wind energy company reports, and speaking to a steadily increasing number of people, that I realised how naive I was. 
The more I delved into the concept of wind energy and the way the turbines intruded into the very mind and lifestyle of those surrounding neighbours, the more I realised that our own lifestyle was to change, and not for the better. To what extend we are to yet determine, but change it will. I learnt about, and experiencd for myself, the noise problem. I heard a new term as it applied to the landscape - flicker, and glint. I imagined how tall the towers would be from my home, towering above on a hill not 500 metres from by back door. I knew very promptly that my property value had dropped, and it was not long before the waves of discontent from other neighbours invaded our home and the community - there were people out there with very big concerns. Indeed, I did not realise until I visited their homes just how intrusive these wind trubines would be to other neighbours. I was not alone in my concerns. I read more, and spoke to several people directly imvolved in the Toora, Dollar, and Bald Hills project. If I was to be a NIMBY, I would at least know what I was talking about. I soon realised how much there was to learn, as there are others in South Gippsland who have spent an enormous amount of time debating the wind energy issue and trying to maintain what was an ideal rural lifestyle for them. I soon realised that when the turbine towers are indeed in your backyard, they are an enormous problem to your wellbeing. But how close to they have to be. Apart from the visiual impact over many miles, I soon realised that sound is a problem even at seven kilometers; that flicker is a terrible situation whereby the strobe effect can be not just annoying but a true health hazard. And of course, every time I now walk onto my little piece of Gippsland paradise, I cannot healp but look up and image what it will be like in eighteen months time. Yes, I have been told that nothing may come of all of this - the monitoring tower now on the land will provide the data as to whether the windfarm will go ahead. All this anxiety is in vain! But I have anxiety - it exists, and I feel it in my neighbours. 
IDNTS - and neither do they. 
I and my family have a right to live a quiet respectable responsible life as a member of the Yarram and district community, and hopefully we have been an asset rather than a burden to the community. And now this happens to disrupt our life. Of course, how much it will disrupt us in the lap of the Gods. But when these towers are up and running, they will remain for twenty-five years. I may by then not have to worry about the 'legacy of the backyard turbines' I have left my wife and son. Besides, the wind turbines will become second-nature in time, just like power lines. Do we need to accept this. 
My neighbours are wonderful people. But I don't want these towering turbines in my backyard, for most of the concerns expressed on the main page: property devalutation, noise, glint, flicker, visual degradation, and possibly electromagnetic problems that may occur. And if you have doubts about our concerns, thats our family home in the main photo on the home page, in the lower left corner. 
October 2005.

Susan Reakes, Bolgers Road, Devon North.
To:   Wellington Shire Councillors, 24/03/06

Dear Councillors,
It has come to my attention that Snergywind P/L has lodged an application for a permit to erect a ‘windfarm’ on the property of Graeme Helleren at Devon North. I am writing to object to this application for the following reasons.
1.The significant devaluation of our property – by up to 40%. This will cause great hardship to my family, if for some reason we have to sell our property, as we are small land holders and will not be able to purchase 
another property because of this devaluation. There are a number of other properties that will be affected in a similar way.
2. The visual impact of the turbines. We bought this property 13 years ago choosing it because of the visual aspect – rolling hills, the view along the road approaching the property and the peace and quiet of living out of town. The erection of the turbines will end all this.They will be on the hill directly behind our property, towering over us. We will see them every time we come out of our house.
3. Synergywind sent a letter stating that the turbines will not be noisy and that they will be placed so that the flicker doesn’t affect any property but I don’t know how reliable their word is on this matter and it will be too late once the turbines are erected. As I suffer from a health problem that is exacerbated by flickering light, this concerns me.
4. It has been stated (by Synergy) that this ‘Windfarm’ will bring employment to the locals. I have been told that since the completion of the Toora ‘Windfarm’ it employs one maintenance person. If this is true even if 
Synergy use locals in the construction process it will only be short term employment.
5. Having studied the value of wind turbines I am yet to be convinced that they are a particularly worthwhile form of green energy when comparing their disadvantages. I would ask you to study this for yourselves.
In conclusion, I would like you to consider the effect this proposal will have on the Devon North community and to consider what will happen if you allow this proposal to go ahead. It could open the gateway for these 
gigantic turbines to be scattered all over Gippsland, marring our lovely countryside. I believe there should be strict guidelines as to how far away the turbines should be from a residential area.
Lastly, I ask , would you like these turbines in your back yard?
Yours faithfully
Susan Reakes, 24/3/06

Tom Reakes, Bolgers Road, Devon North. 6 December 2005
To: Graeme and Lyn Helleren, Ingles Road, Devon North, owners of proposed windfarm property.
Dear Graham and Lyn,
I felt it was important to write you both after having seen you at the pizza restaurant last night. Whilst we didn't talk I thought it was right to be polite and warmly acknowledge you. I may disagree, absolutely, with your
decision to invite Synergy to consider placing wind turbines overlooking our beautiful valley, but you are, otherwise, two very decent people who deserve respect and courtesy.

Sue and I are both thoroughly disappointed by your decision and concerned at the effect these turbines are going to have on our, and plenty of others', lifestyles, should they go ahead. There are many reasons why, all of which
you probably are aware given the press that the matter has received.

This issue has the potential to divide a harmonious and lovely community. We moved here from Melbourne chasing a dream and others, I know, have similar dreams of a peaceful and happy life amongst the rolling green hills of Devon North. Some have put all their savings and efforts into achieving that.
Others are looking forward to an idyllic retirement in a beautiful spot. All of this is placed in serious jeopardy so that a foreign company can achieve a bottom line (and yourselves too, I should imagine) through a tax-payer
subsidised enterprise which, at the very least, is highly suspect at producing its purpose of lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

I won't say too much more - I do not wish to preach at you - but I would ask you humbly and respectfully to reconsider your position. This community deserves better.

Yours sincerely,

Tad & Elizabeth Heibert
November 11, 2005
To: Christian Spitzner, Synergy Wind Pty. Ltd.
Dear Mr. Spitzner,
Subject: Proposed Yarram Wind Farm
Thank you for your letter of 7th September 2005 informing us of the proposed Yarram Wind Farm. We regret to say that this is absolutely devastating news for us. 
We are presently constructing a house in beautiful Devon North, and are planning to retire there in the near future.  We feel that our dream of a peaceful and quiet life in the country is being destroyed. 
We are fully aware of the need to reduce CO2 emissions, and we are certainly not against renewable energy. For that matter, neither are we against wind farms. We simply believe that wind farms should be carefully planned, suitably located, designed and developed to ensure that the benefits outweigh any negative impacts.
We strongly feel that the proposed Yarram Wind Farm is not suitably located. We oppose the proposal for the Yarram Wind Farm for the following reasons:
· It is far too close to our house (it might be as close as 600 meters). Surely in Australia it is still possible to find a more suitable place for a wind farm than a location that is 600 meters away from neighboring houses. Wind farms should be placed in more remote locations (unless they are close to the landowner’s house, who gets paid substantially for it).
· The noise – there is evidence which suggests that the whirring noise can make people sick a mile away. The incessant, low-pitched hum will destroy our dream of quiet and peaceful country living. It will be there 24 hours a day; such noise will be a depressing, monotonous, overriding beat that you can’t escape, especially if you are so close to a wind farm (even 600 meters). 
· Reduced property value. The value of our property will devalue because of its close proximity to the wind farm (the closer the wind farm, the bigger the devaluation). The Toora experience has seen surrounding land valuations decreased by the local council. It is so unfair that the landowner accommodating the wind turbines benefits economically, whilst the neighboring properties loose value. In our opinion, there should be a provision for paying compensation to those who have been materially affected by the wind turbines. 
· Visual impact. Wind turbines will impact most harshly on those who live in close proximity to them. We will be faced with the overpowering view of the wind turbines all day. We are building our house with panoramic windows to take advantage of the beautiful views, and with the turbines so close, this view will be directly and significantly affected. 
We believe that the wind farms should be located in more remote places, with a minimum of 1 kilometer to the nearest house (to minimize the impacts of noise, reduced property value and visual impact). We strongly believe that Devon North is not a suitable location for the proposed Yarram Wind Farm, because of the close proximity of many houses. Thus, we register our objection to the proposal in the strongest possible terms. We trust that you and your company will sympathize with our objections and concerns.
Sincerely yours,
Tad & Elizabeth Heibert, 11/11/05


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