South Gippsland
Victoria, Australia




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For ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS STATEMENT PANEL REPORTS, and Ministerial Decisions, enter 'Windfarm' in the keyword search, and then scroll down to 'South Gippsland'.
The following links should take you straight to the reports. Note that they are a rather large to download.
 Bald Hills Windfarm EES Panel Report - Body (PDF - 1.1 Mb)
 Bald Hills Windfarm EES Panel Report - Appendices (PDF - 1.1 Mb)
 Ministers Assessment - Bald Hills Windfarm (PDF - 103 Kb)


Inquiry into employment in the environment sector 


An important professional statement on the despoilation (of Germany) by windfarms.
Se also below.



Ian Tuck Report to the Bald Hills Panel Hearing - should be compulsory reading. 

Windfarm West Denmark report.


The Future for Renewable Energy or Another Form of Planning Blight?


This excellent letter summarises the thoughts of another neighbouring family who are now facing the prospect of a large winfarm near their property. It serves to demonstrate the common concerns of other neighbours, that is, thos of us who oppose the Devon North windfarm, several hundred kilometres away. This is original thought from th Prasser family who, until now, have had no contact with the Devon North coalition. 

Email:  prasserpjj@optusnet.com.au
28th March 2007 
To Interested Parties:  Why we didn't sign up for the Glenthompson Wind Farm.

We were invited by the Promoter of the above wind factory to participate in their proposed development on the Caramut Road, 3 kilometres south of Glenthompson.  Some people have expressed the view that "people who have issues with wind farms are likely to be those who did not have the opportunity to participate".  This is a misguided view.  We were invited and chose not to participate for the following reasons:

It's a secret.  If you want to participate, you must sign a confidentiality agreement with the Promoter and agree not to talk to anyone about your involvement.  Why would this be?  Well, let's guess!  Could it be that the Promoter wants to keep all of the neighbours from talking to each other?  Who stands to gain from the secrecy and can take advantage of it.  Why can't it be an open and transparent dealing?

You receive $1,000 from the Promoter.  For this fee, you give the Promoter/Operator unlimited right of access to your property to do whatever they like in respect of wind farms.  That's right!  Unlimited.

The Promoter or the Operator can enter your property 24 hours, 7 days a week, at their will.   That's right, they have unlimited access to your property because you have leased it to them for some 30 years to do as they might in respect of wind towers and infrastructure.

The Promoter or the Operator have the right to install as many wind towers on you property as they wish, where ever they wish.  You have little say in this.  Sure, they will talk to you about it, but in the end, you have signed your rights over to them and while they say they will be cooperative, their goal is to install the towers in sites on your property that make the best of the prevailing wind.

They will build roads around your property so they can service the wind towers.  Once again this is their right, because you have leased your property to them for the purpose of building a wind farm and now they have the right to build service infrastructure, run underground cables and whatever else is necessary.  They will service the roads, but there is nothing in the agreement to cover any associated erosion or degradation that results away from the road from water runoff.

Landcare and the environment.  If you want to plant any trees within 50 - 100 metres of the wind turbines, you have to submit a plan to the Promoter/Operator to seek their permission.  Yes, it's in the agreement.  You are not even allowed the freedom to revegetate your property without getting approval.  So much for greening Australia and caring for the wildlife and environment.

They will install huge concrete pads on which to place the towers. They never have to remove these (because it's in the agreement).  These huge pads will be there for eternity and there is nothing you can do about it.  These towers are much larger than the light towers at the MCG of which the foundations consist of 4 reinforced concrete piers, which are set down in depth up to 12 metres. Each of the hollow tubular steel towers at the MCG contains about 130 tonnes of steel.  The wind towers will be much larger than this and so will their foundations.

The towers will be obsolete in 30 years.  The Promoters agree to remove the towers at the end of their life, which is quoted as 30 years, but the Promoter will on-sell the wind farm to a group of investors, probably from overseas, who will not want to incur the expense of removing the towers.  Therefore, there is no guarantee that these aging pieces of equipment will ever be removed.  The factory could be sold many times in its life cycle.  In the USA, obsolete wind turbines have been abandoned. 

The Towers and blades are 120 metres tall.  This compares to a 35 - 40 story building.  As a comparison, the 6 light towers at the MCG are 75 metres high (equivalent to a 24 story building).  These wind towers are very big.  Additionally, a fact that is not widely publicised is that the Promoters can, and probably will, install much taller towers than are in place at other wind farms in Victoria. 

There is no fire safety plan.  Wind towers overseas have ignited fires.  Probably not early in their life, but as they age will wear and drop oil onto the ground.  They are turbines, generating electricity and sparks.  We all receive notices from the electricity company warning us about overhead power lines.  Consider the fire danger from 40 or more wind turbines compared to power lines.

We will lose our view and our farm life style will be impacted.  Much has been written about this subject and I could continue to write for many pages.  The noise, sun reflection, shadows, sharing our property with the Operators (at their will), and so on.  Not a pleasant thought.  

Return from the wind factory.  The Promoter advised us that we would receive around $3,000 per tower for a total of 5 towers.  This means we would receive a base payment of around $15,000 pa.  We might receive more if it was a windy season, the towers worked well and the electricity companies bought our power, but there is no guarantee of higher returns from the Promoter.  So we are able to lease our land for $15,000 pa.  Does this sound like a good deal?

Selling your property.  Any prospective buyer has to accept all of the terms and conditions imposed by the Promoter/Operator, who now has a covenant on your property.  This means that ultimately, the Promoter/Operator has to approve the sale of your property. You are not even free to sell your own property!

Value of the property.  The Promoter will not talk to you about the impact of the wind turbines on the value of your property.  You have read the above, so you can probably figure it out.  If your farm has become a wind factory, the purchaser will be someone that wants to invest in wind factories and the financial return will drive the price.  If you are trying to sell to someone who is hoping to purchase a pretty country property with a pleasant outlook, then you are probably out of luck.

The role of a wind farm Promoter is much like any other promoter.  They put a deal together, get all parties to the table to agree to the deal, they then sell off the deal and their reward is normally a nice fat profit margin or bonus. 

After the sale happens, the people of Victoria are left with all of the outcomes, both good and/or bad.  Consider that the buyers of most of Victoria's electricity assets are overseas companies, not Australian companies.

These are the reasons we chose not to sign our rights away.  Do you blame us?  

Peter & Judy Prasser

** Added notes from the CRDN coalition:
Future sale of windfarm land. The landowner of the proposed windfarm at Devon North has the property on the market. However, it is proposed that the sale does NOT include the contractural arrangements with the wind energy company, so therefore, the new landowner would not benefit from the operation of the windfarm. How this can be legally done is not known, but that is the proposal. What has happened elsewhere is that the landowner and family move off the land (because of the noise, flicker, property access, visiual degradation etc - just as the neighbours continue to experience), and lease the land to a farmer who uses the land for its intended purpose of livestock grazing. The landowners home could then be rented out, but because of the gross deterioration of amenity in living in the residence, (the very reason why the landowner vacated the residence in the first place), the rent is greatly reduced. This will force low income families to have to accept and tolerate what are unacceptable living condition, thus putting them at a further disadvantge. The government needs to consider a statute law to prevent the separate leasing of the residence and land. This will ensure that only the landowner or leasee of the land uses the residence, ie the resident has a financial and/or operational interest in the use and maintenance of the land. 
The financial sweetener. No Devon North neighbour was offered money in return for 'participating in the proposed development'. The Prasser family appear to have a landholding suitable for turbines, so their objections are even more credible, not being motivated by (oops, - financial gain). That the greater majority of the neighbouring properties at Devon North are residences on small holdings is significant. Adjoining larger holdings are either (pine) forrested or on flat valley land. It not inconceivable that in the future, the proposed wind farm operators may offer a financial sweetener to individual neighbour residents just to shut them up, even if they have no potential for turbines on their land. Two years ago, it way well have been financially beneficial for Synergy Wind to offer $10,000 to each of say ten families opposed to the Devon North windfarm, just to have them not only not oppose the windfarm but to actively support it. If offered early enough in the process, some neighbouring residents may  accepte it due to ignorance of the consequences of the operation of the windfarm. Certainly, no sane resident would accept any financial reward once they are conversant with the facts. 
Secrecy clause. This may sound incredible, but it is certainly true. The owner of the proposed windfarm property is not allowed, by contract, to enter into debate on the proposal with any neighbour, (indeed anyone) unless permitted to do so by the operator, Synergy Wind. This flies in the face of what we stand for in Australia - free speach. (Synergy Wind is a German-based investment group). It does not however appear to prevent the landowner from verbally abusing a neighbour for opposing the windfarm, as had been done at Devon North. 


The Age
August 10, 2006

We need renewable energy sources, but the answer's not blowin' in the wind, writes Geoff Strong.

SINCE Europeans began squeezing out Australia's riches, a magic-pudding mythology has wormed into our folklore. It's part of a fantasy that the land and its
resources are endless and infinite. As Norman Lindsay's storybook character says, "the more ya eats, the more ya gets".

It probably explains how we are lulled by some of the claims of alternative energy. How often do we hear the mantra, particularly from politicians, "clean, green and totally renewable"? 
Well maybe, but first read the fine print.

Wind farms are now the renewable energy source of choice, largely because they are a tested off-the-shelf technology that generates electricity. They are particularly attractive to big investors, such as union superannuation funds wanting to demonstrate that their investments are ethical.

Also they appeal to astute merchant banks that detect a public willing to pay more for an energy source they believe helps the environment, particularly with rules guaranteeing that any power generated will be bought.

For politicians, turbines are big and visible — tangible proof to a worried public that something is being done about human-induced global warming, a problem few people fully understand. Thus Victoria recently announced a wind industry free kick with a new policy to increase the number in the state.

Equally few people seem to understand electricity generation and the grid that distributes it. Some think power is stored in a giant battery down in the Latrobe Valley. Others (including some cabinet ministers), seem to think the system is like a lake into which energy produced can just be poured. In reality, it is more like the vascular system of an animal: inputs and pulse must be carefully regulated or things will go wrong.

Electric energy is one of the foundations of the civilisation we probably take for granted. In Australia, the economy underpinning that civilisation relies on electricitybeing fairly cheap. We have little else, such as low wages, to keep industries lik e manufacturing here. What sort of an economy would we have with Chinese rates of pay?

But do technologies such as wind really work and answer our clean energy needs? A decade ago, I was one of the wind-farm faithful, but after closer examination I have become an apostate. Global warming is real and the biggest threat to our planet and species. My main concern about wind farms is that they lull many into thinking something effective is being done, when I suspect it is not.

For starters, wind farms generate for only about 20 to 30 per cent of the time and it is only by chance that any power is generated when it is needed. Take the recent experience of the merchant bank spin-off Babcock and Brown Wind Partners. With 19 wind farms on three continents, the company has faced a $10 million profit downgrade because the recent heatwave in Spain and Germany led to "still wind". In other words, it did not blow when consumers wanted air-conditioning.

Australia's electricity supply on our east coast is managed by the National Electricity Market Management Company. It is charged with meeting demand with supply at the most economical price. In any power system, electricity comes from two forms, baseload and peak. The first are the big power stations that produce bulk electricity — in our state from brown coal, while nuclear power is touted as a greenhouse-friendly alternative.

Peak power usually comes from hydro or gas — more expensive, more environmentally friendly but able to be stopped and started according to demand.

Where does wind come in? In a sense it doesn't, because NEMMCO does not count it as power generation, because it can't be called up like other forms. Rather, it is classified as a drop in demand. As well, wind does not normally displace coal power, it displaces the more environmentally sound but expensive generators such as hydro-electricity and gas.

In addition, because of its unreliability wind has to be backed up to 90 per cent of its claimed capacity by other forms of generators. Also, the output is relatively low per dollar spent. The State Government has a report it won't release that sources have said confirms this.

Victoria's biggest power station, Loy Yang A, produces 2000 megawatts. The average wind turbine produces about one megawatt in ideal wind conditions. Imagine the area of the state that would need to be covered in turbines to replace the 6395 megawatts we get from coal. Don't forget to back it up about 90 per cent for reliability.

There are, however, alternative energies with baseload prospects such as using steam from underground hot rocks to power generators. Another intriguing project is the 500-megawatt solar tower, proposed for near Mildura, where a huge greenhouse would generate hot air to be sucked up a 500-metre- high tube, turning embedded wind turbines. The company behind it, EnviroMission, claims this also offers the renewable holy grail of being able to store energy, in this case in the heated ground.

While hard reality means clean energy might not be blowing in the wind, it might well be in the updraft.

Geoff Strong is a senior staff writer.(The Age)

THE WEEKLY TIMES, July 5, 2006


By David Mckenzie and Paul Sellars.

Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran has branded  the wind energy industry "immoral" for slashing land values and not paying proper compensation. In a strong attack, Mr McGauran has also accused the fledgling industry of exaggerating its energy credentials and using government subsidies to build massive wind farms in regional Australia. 

"Someone has to blow the whistle on this industry," Mr McGauran told The Weekly Times. The worst aspect of wind turbines was that they' 'immorally devalued' adjoining property values and ‘devastated' the landscape, he said. . Mr McGauran said it was "immoral for wind fanns to be distorting neighbouring property values without compelling reasons that they are in the national interest or worse still, without sufficient compensation". 

"Some savvy entrepreneurs have attempted to build the industry on the back of taxpayer subsidies and at the expense of innocent property owners," he said. "Only where local communities, such as Ararat and Portland, welcome wind farms should they be 'allowed to proceed." 

Wind power was nowhere near as environmentally or energy-efficient as the industry claimed, Mr McGauran said. "The amount of energy generated by wind farms is so miniscule that it's hard to even measure". A lot of energy was required to build and operate wind turbines, and they could not store energy for use when there was no wind, he said. 

However, Auswind chief executive Dominique La Fontaine said Mr McGauran' s comments were incorrect and at odds with the pro-wind stance of many of his Federal Government colleagues, including Environment Minister Ian Campbell. Ms La Fontaine said wind farms did not devalue adjacent land values and provided significant quantities of clean, green energy. 

"We welcome the debate on Australia's energy future and we finnly believe that wind energy: can play a major role," she said. "However, if we are to have this debate we must rely on facts, not rumour, innuendo and scare-mongering." 

Victorian Energy Minister Theo Theophanous said Mr McGauran "had taken a stance that would deny many farmers the income they received from leasing their land for renewable energy projects". "He's also oblivious to the need to take steps now to reduce greenhouse emissions so that farmers are not crippled by the impact of climate change," Mr Theophanous said. 


* Clearly, Peter McGauran is not against clean energy. He condemns the situation where windfarms are inappropriately sited in a community, and strongly questions why the wind energy industry needs to be heavily subsidised. Mr. McGauran's stance on the issue is honest, sensible and much appreciated. . 
* Mr. McGauran may be at odds with some of his collegues, but his stance is not against party policy.  Why is it that the Federal government is no longer subsidising windfarms? And why is it that Ian Cameron has insisted on better communication and consultation with the rural community.
* Dominique LaFontaine states that wind farms do not devalue adjacent land values. Tell that to a few folks on Bolgers Road! That's a pretty insensitive and uninformed comment for the CEO of AusWEA to make. 
* Dominique LaFontine doesn't want "rumour, innuendo and scare-mongering"! Good grief, what have we had to put up with over these last twelve months? Certainly not adequate communication and consultation - and the truth. 
* Theo Theopanous - oh dear! If only he knew what he was talking about. He is clearly trying to get the farmers on side with his woeful comment. Note he makes no mention of the intrusion of the windfarms into the rural community. Read my letter to editor, YSN, 12 July 2006. 


Herald Sun - 28 July 2005
Wind power is often portrayed as apanacea for all ills, a renewable
energy source par excellence. What its proponents don't tell you
is that expensive and irregular wind power would not exist without subsidies and that too much of it can cause instability on power networks.
Ironically, wind power can also lead to higher greenhouse emissions when linked to existing coal-tired generators which reach peak environmental efficiency at high loads.
This week another problem came to light when Stanwell Corporation's Windy Hill wind farm had a nasty accident. 
Fortunately, no-one was injured when a massive 22 m turbine blade on one of the 20 huge wind
turbines spectacularly sheared off.
But it must have been extra-ordinary to see a glass fibre reinforced epoxy blade perched 44m
above the ground go for an excursion.
Stanwell spokes(person) Anne Savage confined the incident, near Ravenshoe on the Atherton tableland south of Cairns, and said an investigation had been launched into what went wrong.
Maybe politicians will be a little less keen to pose next to wind turbines from now on, knowing they could lose their heads if something goes wrong.


FARMERS are being asked to sign secret 25-year contracts to host wind farms on Victoria's coastline for up to $100,000 a year. Under the contracts, farmers who host turbines are banned from talking about
noise and shadow effect, or any other concerns. Wind Power pays farmers up to $8000 a year for each turbine they host, or 2.5 per cent of revenue from future energy sales at their Bald Hills site, whichever is greater. The State Government gave the controversial $220 million project the go-ahead last month, despite the objections of more than 1400 locals. 
Wind Power's farm of 52 turbines will be at the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park at Bald Hills, overlooking Venus and Waratah bays. A Wind Power contract, seen by the Herald Sun, reveals the company has the right to use its wind turbines in any manner it sees fit, with no limits on times or hours of use and height or size, unless required by law. 
The contracts also ban farmers from:
OBJECTING to development or use of wind farm sites by the company.
PLANTING trees or other vegetation within 750m of a wind turbine that the company deems could affect its performance.
SPEAKING publicly about wind farms without prior written approval, including the form, content and manner of any statement to the media.
Coastal Guardians Victoria spokesman Tim Le Roy said farmers who were initially blinded by money were being locked into contracts they then could not get out of.``Some farmers feel unhappy their properties have been turned into industrial sites and there is nothing they can do about it,'' Mr Le Roy said. ``They're locked in for 25 years.''
Opposition planning spokesman Ted Baillieu said confidentiality clauses on the contracts also included farmers who had signed up for potential turbines, but whose properties were later not deemed suitable.
Mr Baillieu said under the contracts, the farmers were unable to voice their objections to any turbines on neighboring properties. ``These contracts reveal the insidious way wind farms are imposed on the
community,'' he said. ``It's a secret society working for their own favour.''
Wind Power chief executive Steven Buckle was unavailable for comment. 
Herald Sun, 11 September 2004, Tanya Giles 

From Country Guardian (UK), author John Oliver

Sir David King recently described climate change as the most severe problem facing  the world today. He is right; the future of the planet is threatened by the rapid and   un- controlled change in climate, caused by unprecedented human industrial  activity. We must recognise and confront this enormous danger, which threatens  unpredictable and increasingly violent weather, droughts, floods, rising sea levels, widespread famine and vast numbers of ecological refugees. The poor of the world will be worst affected by these changes, yet they need to use more energy if they are to escape from poverty. How can we reconcile their needs with the overriding  necessity to protect the environment and stabilise carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at an acceptable level? Our Government is right to aim to reduce UK carbon di- oxide emissions by 60% by 2050.

Why cannot onshore wind turbines, harnessing unlimited, clean, free energy, play a  small part in this gigantic task? Does not every little help? Not always, and not in this case. Far from being the answer, onshore wind is never going to make a significant contribution to our energy needs. We have at present in the UK 1,030  wind turbines, already ruin- ing many precious and beautiful landscapes, but delivering only 180 mega- watts on a good day in relation to our average winter need of 50,000 megawatts. And it has to be a good day, with enough wind to keep the turbines turning, but not so much that they have to be shut down. Cold winter days can be still, as we sit under an anticyclone, with clear skies, hard frosts, but  not a breath of wind. When we need it most, wind-generated energy is often non-existent.

Because the output of wind turbines is so small and so unreliable, fossil fuel power  stations have to be kept on standby. And just as a car stuck in traffic, stopping and starting frequently, is polluting and fuel inefficient, so fossil-fuel power stations, whose output has to fluctuate to accommodate the fickle contribution of wind, are also more polluting than when run at a steady output. Ramping (fluctua- ting) up and down increases carbon dioxide emissions, places stress on the generating equipment and increases its unreliability.

 Incorporating wind-generated power in the National Grid can cause real problems, as the Danes and Germans have discovered, with sudden surges of power as well as times when wind is delivering virtually nothing. The chairman of the energy policy  committee in the Danish Parliament has described Denmark's re- liance on wind as 'a terribly expensive disaster'. And in Germany, where there are no fewer than 14,500 wind turbines, not a single fossil-fuel power station has been decommissioned.

It is important to remember why we have considered resorting to wind: to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and therefore to protect the environment in the long run  from damage by climate change. But if that is the objective, can it be right to destroy the environment in the process? Already wind turbines have in- vaded many
of the most beautiful areas in mid Wales, the Western Isles, Cornwall and even the fringes of the Lake District National Park, destroying the sense of tranquillity, emptiness and beauty which is so important in these places.

Wind turbines are an alien industrial intrusion. They are on a monstrous scale (the  newest turbines measure more than 400ft to the tip of the blades), and are visible from a great distance. On a clear day, from the modest hill above my house in   Radnorshire, I can see the 103 turbines at Llandinam, 25 miles away, and the 56 even larger ones at Carno, 30 miles away.

 There are health hazards, too. The low-frequency noise emitted by the turbines has  led to well-documented cases of long-term depression and illness in Cornwall and in north Wales. The danger to birds is recognised by the RSPB, which has opposed 27 wind-farm proposals, both onshore and offshore. Migrant birds and birds of prey  are particularly likely to be killed by the turning blades, and many already rare species are put at further risk by this misguided menace.

We move heaven and earth to save precious art treasures for the nation, and raise  huge sums of money to do so. Yet we do not seem to be aware of the terrible danger to our even more precious natural environment posed by wind power. This country has not much empty, un- spoilt landscape; it would therefore be the height  of folly to sacrifice any more of it for an energy source which makes no sense economically, which is heavily subsidised, expensive, inefficient and unreliable —  and which makes scarcely any contribution to the urgent task of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The answers lie elsewhere — notably in harnessing the sea, both tides and  underwater tidal stream energy; the sun, through solar panels and photovoltaics; and geothermal energy. Above all, we must be less prodigal in our use of energy  and much more careful in conserving it. 

By Geoff Strong, The Age, June 28 2003 

Tourism industry leader and former senator John Button has warned the State Government that a
proliferation of wind farms along Victoria's coast would severely damage our biggest tourist
drawcard. Up to 57 per cent of Victoria's coastline could be dotted with hundreds of turbine towers as the
Government accelerates its program to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The chief executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Victoria, David Young, said this area was
potentially available "subject to planning controls".

The remaining 43 per cent is off limits because it is protected by national parks. But a kilometre inland
from the coast even more space is available, because national park protection drops to 32 per cent.
Victoria has no mandatory buffer zones that stop the towers being built next to park boundaries.

Across the state there are 31 farm projects in various stages of preparation ranging from only a
dozen or so turbines to more than 100. 

Mr Button, a former Labor minister and now chairman of the industry-based Victorian Tourism
Council, said the Victorian coast was the fourth most attractive Australian tourist destination for
international visitors, after the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and Sydney.

He has told the Government that a proliferation of wind farms in scenic areas would have
consequences for the industry. "International visitors don't want to come here to see wind farms.
Most of them can see industrial installations at home. I don't think the State Government has given
enough consideration of what we stand to lose if we damage the appearance of this landscape," he

The Government has set a target of producing 1000 megawatts of electricity using non-polluting
wind power by 2006. Victoria now relies on high-greenhouse-gas-producing brown coal, which
generates 6000 megawatts in the Latrobe Valley.

Installed wind farms have a maximum capacity of less than 40 megawatts, enough for 20,000 homes.
In practice they generate considerably less. The wind industry claims its efficiency is about 30 to 40
per cent. The guidelines for siting wind projects (including removing planning approval for
preliminary wind monitoring) were rewritten last year and drafted by the Sustainable Energy
Authority of Victoria. 

The first full-scale project in Victoria was Pacific Hydro's farm at Codrington, east of Portland, with 14
turbines. On a site of little scenic significance, it went ahead without objections. The company's
website states: "Codrington generates enough clean electricity for up to 11,000 homes and avoids
71,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year."

Pacific Hydro's managing director, Jeff Harding, is pleased that the overall output from the farm has
been 32 per cent of rated capacity. In other words, it is regularly producing just 5.8 megawatts. 

"Wind energy is growing worldwide at 40 per cent a year. People are realising the dangers of relying
on fossil fuel. We have to be prepared to pay today for benefits tomorrow," he said.

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/06/27/1056683902874.html 

THE DARMSTADT MANIFSTO  - Paper on Wind Energy 
Initiative Group - Press Release. 1 September 1998 

At the press conference which took place today at the Bruningstrasse Press Club in Bonn the Initiative Group presented the Darmstadt Manifesto on the Exploitation of Wind energy in Germany.  The manifesto, which has to date been signed by more than 60 college/university lecturers and writers*, demands the withdrawal of all direct and indirect subsidies in order to put a stop to the exploitation of wind energy. 

(It claims that) the exploitation of wind energy promotes the type of technology which is of no significance whatever for the purpose of supplying energy, saving resources and protecting the climate. The money could be put to far more effective use in increasing the efficiency of power stations, in ensuring effective energy consumption and in funding scientific research into fundamental principles in the field of energy. 

Many citizens, both male and female, are greatly concerned to see the progressive destruction caused by the ever increasing number of wind 'farms'. This destruction affects both the countryside and our towns and villages with their surrounding areas whose characteristic appearance reflects their development throughout the history of civilisation. 

The Darmstadt Manifesto is directed in particular at politicians, those concerned with our cultural well-being, environmental organisations and the media. Note that many more than 100 university lecturers have since signed up to this Manifesto 

Darmstadt Manifesto on the Exploitation of Wind Energy in Germany. 

Our country is on the point of losing a precious asset. The expansion of the industrial exploitation of wind energy has developed such a driving force in just a few years that there is now great cause for concern. A type of technology is being promoted before its effectiveness and its consequences have been properly assessed. The industrial transformation of cultural landscapes which have evolved over centuries and even of whole regions is being allowed. 

Ecologically and economically useless wind generators, some of which stand as high as 120 metres and can be seen from many kilometres away, are not only destroying the characteristic landscape of our most valuable countryside and holiday areas, but are also having an equally radical alienating effect on the historical 
appearance of our towns and villages which until recently had churches, palaces and castles as their outstanding features to give them character in a densely populated landscape. More and more people are subjected to living unbearably close to machines of oppressive dimensions. Young people are growing up into a world in which natural 
landscapes are breaking up into tragic remnants. 

The oil crisis in the 1970s made everyone very aware of the extent to which industrial societies are dependent on a 
guaranteed supply of energy. For the first time the general public became aware of the fact that the earth's fossil fuel resources are limited and could be exhausted in the not too distant future if they continue to be consumed without restraint. In addition came the recognition of the damage which was being caused to the environment by the production and consumption of energy. 

The loss of trees due to pollution, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident, the legacy of the ever accumulating pile of nuclear waste, the risks of a climatic catastrophe as a consequence of carbon dioxide emissions have all established themselves in the public consciousness as examples of the growing potential threat. 

The real problem of population growth and above all the resultant phenomenon of escalating land use and consumption of drinking water supplies is however being pushed aside and being considered instead as a marginal phenomenon. With few exceptions it is not be subject of any political action. On the contrary, the public interest is becoming even more limited, focusing less on energy consumption as a whole and concentrating its fears and criticisms predominantly on the generation of electricity. 

Admittedly nuclear risks do doubtless exist here. However electrical energy plays more of a minor role in the 
balance sheet of energy sources. In Germany three quarters of the energy consumed consists of oil and gas. But is precisely these energy sources whose resources will be exhausted the soonest. If it were really a question of concern for future generations then immediate, decisive action to protect supplies of oil and natural gas would be imperative. Instead petrol consumption continues unchanged, and the idea that we are leaving nothing for our great grandchildren is dispelled with the vague presumption that there will one day be substitutes for fossil fuels. On the other hand hard coal and brown coal, which are the main primary sources of electrical energy, are available in such abundance world-wide, and in many cases in deposits which are as yet unexploited, that electricity production is guaranteed, even with growing-consumption, for centuries, possibly even for a period of over a thousand years. With regard to the exhaustion of energy sources for fossil fuels the development of electricity production using wind bypasses the problem. 

Although Germany has taken the lead in the expansion of wind energy use, it has not been possible to date to replace one single nuclear or coal-fired power station. Even if Germany continues to push ahead with expansion it will still not be possible in the future. The electricity produced by wind power is not constant because it is dependent on meteorological conditions, but electricity supplies need to be in line with consumption at all times. For this reason wind energy cannot be used to any significant degree as a substitute for conventional power station capacities. 

Insufficient attention is also being paid to pollutant levels. Whereas until a few years ago it was chiefly the coal-fired power stations' sulphur dioxide emissions due to poor filtering which caused problems, it is now mainly road traffic which is polluting the forests' ecosystems with nitrogen oxides and nitrous oxide. Added to which the effectiveness of power stations is improving with technological progress and as a result the level of pollutants given off per unit of energy is decreasing. The latter is also true of carbon dioxide emissions, with the result that electricity production in 
Germany is today responsible for only a fifth of the greenhouse gases emitted. The energy capacity of wind is comparatively low. Modern wind turbines with a rotor surface area the size of a football field make only tiny fractions of the energy that is produced by conventional power stations. So with more than five thousand wind turbines in Germany less than one per cent of the electricity needed is produced, or only slightly more than one thousandth of the total energy produced. The pollutant figures are similar for the same reason. The contribution made by (the use of) wind energy to the avoidance of greenhouse gases is somewhere between one and two thousandths. Wind energy is therefore of no significance whatever both in the statistics for energy and in those for pollutants and greenhouse gases. At the same time we must take into account the fact that economic growth always brings 
with it, to a greater or lesser extent, an increasing energy requirement - despite all the efforts made with technology towards greater efficiency in the transformation and consumption of energy. This means that because it makes such a small contribution to the statistics, wind energy is running a race which is already lost in an economic order 
orientated towards growth. 

At present total energy consumption in Germany is growing about seventy times(!) faster than the production potential of wind energy. The negative effects of wind energy use are as much underestimated as its contribution to 
the statistics is overestimated. Falling property values reflect the perceived deterioration in quality of life - not just in
areas close to the turbines, but even all over Schleswig-Holstein. More and more people are describing their lives as unbearable when they are directly exposed to the acoustic and optical effects of wind farms. There are reports of people being signed off sick and unfit for work, there is a growing number of complaints about symptoms such as pulse irregularities and states of anxiety, which are known from the effects of infrasound (sound of frequencies below the normal audible limit). 

The animal world is also suffering at the hands of this technology. On the North Sea and Baltic coasts birds are being driven away from their breeding, roosting and feeding grounds. These displacement effects are being increasingly observed inland too. From the point of view of the national economy the development of wind energy is far from being the "success story" it is often claimed to be. On the contrary, it puts a strain on the economy as it is still unprofitable with a low energy yield on the one hand and high investment costs on the other. And yet, as a result of the legal framework conditions which have been set, private and public capital is being invested on a large scale - capital which is not least unavailable for important environmental protection measures, but also ties up purchasing power. 

This in turn leads to job losses in other areas. The only way in which the Investors can realise their exceptionally high returns is by means of the level of payment for electricity produced by wind which has been determined by law, and which represents several times its actual market value, and by taxation depreciation. 

For more than twenty years now German politicians have been under pressure to react to urgent problems concerning the environment and preventative measures, and have been promoting a seriously erroneous evaluation of wind energy. This has allowed the use of wind energy to become established in the view of public opinion as some sort of total solution which supposedly makes a decisive contribution towards a clean environment and a guaranteed supply of energy for the future, and also towards the evasion of a climatic catastrophe and the avoidance of nuclear dangers. 

This false picture raises hopes and results in a general acceptance of the use of wind energy which is strengthened 
further by the fact that people are not expected to make any savings. The negative effects of the wind energy industry in our densely populated country are suppressed, scientific knowledge is ignored and there is a taboo on criticism. Only a few people are willing to break away from these political and social trends. After fighting for 
decades with great commitment for the preservation of our countryside the majority of the large organisations for the protection of nature now stand idly by watching its destruction. 

Together with groups of thoughtless operators, a policy orientated towards short term success was able to clear the way in the following manner: as a result of amendments to planning law and the law on nature conservation, our countryside is almost unprotected against the exploitation of wind energy and is therefore left at the mercy of material exploitation by capital investment. At the same time the people who are directly exposed to this technology which is hostile to man have to a large extent been deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed right to a say in the matter of the shaping of the environment in which they live. 

As all efforts to influence those with political responsibilities have been without success, the signatories of this manifesto see no other solution other than to make their concerns public. In view of the serious harm threatening our countryside, which has evolved through history and which is the foundation of our cultural identity, we appeal for an end and to the expansion of wind power technology which is pointless from both an ecological and an economical point of view. 

In particular we are demanding the withdrawal of all direct and indirect subsidies to this technology. Instead public funds should be made available on a larger scale for the development of more efficient technology and for the kind of research into basic principles which is likely to provide real solutions to the problems of producing energy in a way which is environmentally friendly and lasting. 

We issue an urgent warning against the uncritical promotion of a technology which will in the long term have far reaching adverse effects on the relationship between man and nature. We are particularly concerned about a change of attitude, which is more difficult to perceive as it is evolving slowly and which gives us less and less ability to recognise how important it is for man to live in an environment which is predominantly characterised by nature. 

(All members involved in the manifesto listed on document.)

Interview with Tim Le Roy.
A.B.C. Earthbeat:: 6 December  2003  - Whipping up the Wind 

This is the print version of story http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/earth/stories/s1001523.htm 

Hi there, welcome to Earthbeat, I'm Alexandra de Blas.... first to wind power, seen as one of the bright lights on the renewable energy horizon, and a key plank in the solution to kicking our addiction to fossil fuels. The industry is growing rapidly here. It's doubled in size each year for the last three, and is now producing enough energy to power 100,000 homes.  In the last fortnight, we've seen the launch of Challicum Hills, the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere, just near Ararat in Victoria; and in Tasmania, Premier Jim Bacon opened the country's first wind manufacturing plant at Wynyard, providing 70 new jobs on the North West coast. But the story isn't quite as rosy as it sounds. The gigantic white, rotating turbines can generate a spark that splits communities in two. And that divide is emerging in Victoria's environment movement. Tim Le Roy is their spokesperson in Victoria from Coastal Guardians Victoria.

Tim Le Roy: Our main concerns about the approach of the developers and the State government in Victoria they're targeting scenic coastlines, small rural communities and there's no need for them to be doing that. Windmills have a massive visual impact, they also have a noise impact and  they scar the landscape that they're erected on. We believe there needs to be a balance between the desires of the developers, the actual efficiency
of the industry and what they're achieving environmentally, and the needs of rural communities and our landscape.

Alexandra de Blas: Do you think there should be any wind farms at all?

Tim Le Roy: I think we have to acknowledge that there's a subsidy available. The developers got their nostrils flaring, they see a pot of money  provided by the Federal government legislation, and you can't blame them for wanting to exploit that. There's plenty of people out there exploiting subsidies. One of the issues that we have with the current State government guidelines is because they give the developers free access to our coast,     we've had to highlight the inefficiencies of the industry. And you'll notice that the wind industry tends to fall back on climate change, jobs, because  they know that their product is flawed. If it was very efficient in the way of producing energy, we'd only be fighting this on landscape alone, but now we're highlighting the inefficiencies of the whole industry.

Alexandra de Blas: So why do you think wind isn't a good technology?

Tim Le Roy: There's a number of reasons. One, it only generates electricity when the wind is blowing, and the wind fluctuates violently, so it needs backup at all times by other means. In Victoria it doesn't work very well as displacing brown coal generation, because you cannot fire up a brown coal generator very quickly. So effectively what you'd be using to balance your wind energy, would be hydro facilities, and we don't have much of that in Victoria either. I believe they're going to work quite well in Tasmania and with Basslink coming through that's going to be providing quite a lot of renewable energy to Victoria anyway.

Alexandra de Blas:  The subsidy he mentioned relates to MRET, the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target set by the Commonwealth government. It requires large energy buyers to obtain an extra 1% of their energy from renewable sources by 2010. Under the current target the industry forecasts a fivefold increase in wind power.  A review of MRET has just been completed and everyone involved is hanging on the outcome. The most controversial wind farm proposals in Australia are on Victoria's most spectacular bits of coast. So are the developers too greedy? I put that to Karl Mallon, the Director of Community Relations with the Australian Wind Energy Association.

Karl Mallon: It's a difficult situation that a lot of developers find themselves in under the current legislative environment. The targets for renewable energy are quite modest by international standards. Australia's calling for an increase in in-store capacity of 1% of renewables, compared to 10% in  many other countries. What that means is that it's a very competitive environment and wind energy projects have to compete with large hydro
projects, and also supply from other renewables. That means the developers really can only get projects up in the windiest sites. Now some of  those are in land, and some of those are on the coast. Unfortunately the situation some developers find themselves in, is they either put the projects  there, or they can't put a project up at all.

Alexandra de Blas: Why is it so tight?

Karl Mallon: At the moment, the market is really defined as being a buyer's market. The retailers can pick and choose amongst projects. Now  what we and many other groups are calling for is an increase in the renewable energy target, which would see a movement towards a much greater  demand for renewable energy, and when you have that demand, it means obviously the prices go up for what people will pay for renewable energy, and the effect that that has is that there are many other sites that become economically viable to put wind farms in, and indeed other renewable energy projects. And so that's what we see as the way out of this situation, that we can open up many more options and so avoid constraints over sites which may have other values to communities or indeed other groups.

Alexandra de Blas: But if there was a larger renewable energy target, wouldn't that mean that there'd simply be a lot more wind, so you'd take the sites which have high landscape values and you'd take much more to boot?

Karl Mallon: If you've got two projects, and one is going to be delayed because of a drawn-out planning process, and another project, for  instance like the Challicum Hills farm has gone through in less than two years with not a single objection, which one are you going to pick? A lot of developers would avoid places where they would expect opposition.

Alexandra de Blas: The Coastal Guardians claim that wind won't displace coal because it isn't a baseload power source, so it won't result in the greenhouse gas emission cuts that the industry claims it will. Do they have a point?

Karl Mallon: Look, I think they're completely incorrect on that point. There's some work just been finished by the AGO, and that is indicating  that a typical wind farm of about 50 megaWatts is displacing about 85,000 tonnes of CO2. That's the equivalent in carbon terms of leaving about  25,000 tonnes of black coal in the ground. What the work of the AGO has looked at is if we want to see something like 5,000 megaWatts of wind  put in, that's equivalent to about a quarter of all homes in Australia being supplied by wind energy. What would that mean for the system? Basically they're saying if we have a very strong network, if we have the ability to project what wind farms are going to be producing in the future as they do in Europe now, then we can start to see a system where the wind becomes the equivalent of a baseload producer.

Alexandra de Blas: In response to public concern, Victorian Planning Minister, Mary Delahunty, recently announced that all new wind proposals will have to be assessed for landscape values before planning can proceed. But this doesn't satisfy the industry's critics.

Tim Le Roy: Unfortunately the Victorian government has set a precedent on landscape by giving Pacific Hydro a planning permit for Cape  Bridgewater. Cape Bridgewater's classified by the National Trust of Victoria, it's regarded as our second most treasured landscape after the  Twelve Apostles. Now every single wind miller in the environmental effects statements are going to be submitting that because of the landscape  value of Cape Bridgewater, landscape doesn't come into the equation. So unless the State government withdraws those permits, landscape's just not going to be an issue.

Alexandra de Blas: But the Australian Wind Energy Association and the National Trust are working together to address this landscape question.

Tim Le Roy: I think it's important to clarify which branch of the National Trust that is. The National Trust of Victoria is a founding member of the  Coastal Guardians. The Australian Council of National Trusts and Auswind are a body up in Canberra that have formed this together. We see it as an admission that they've failed in terms of landscape protection as far as the wind industry is concerned. But once again, I'd like to see Auswind  calling on Pacific Hydro, calling on Stanmore Corporation to withdraw from the coastal facilities and say, ‘Well landscape is an issue.' 

Alexandra de Blas: What is the Coastal Guardians' bottom line on wind?

 Tim Le Roy: We'd like the State government in Victoria to call for, or impose, a moratorium on all wind energy developments until they've done a Statewide assessment of landscape values, they've identified go and no-go zones, and they've implemented a proper community consultation  process. In developing that policy, they specifically excluded community consultation.

Karl Mallon: As an Association, we take the landscape issue very seriously. It's something which is really linked in with the cultural values, the  heritage values, the visual values of communities, and that's why we have approached the National Trust to say, Well why don't we work together, because we both have very similar environmental outcomes that we're trying to achieve. Now that makes sense for the National Trust, but I would
have thought to anybody which is why try and prioritise one environmental value, say it's climate change, above another environmental value, in this case, landscape, when in fact we should be working to make sure that we've got positive outcomes for both of those.

Alexandra de Blas: There are many Australians who are very concerned about climate change who want to see the wind industry become strong   in Australia. But they also don't want to see landscape and wilderness values compromised. If this isn't handled properly, we could see huge community opposition which could cut the industry off at it's knees. How seriously is the industry taking this threat.

Karl Mallon: I don't think it's a threat. I actually think it's a fundamental part of our job to make sure that we bring communities and stakeholders  along with us. And so we've produced information about noise and noise standards are now being developed, which we expect to see probably  coming online in the next year. We've also brought some work in from overseas about property prices, and so on about tourism. There are other
     areas that we don't have information on that are peculiarly Australian, that we need to tackle them, and that's why with things like landscape, we do  need to sit down with the National Trust on issues like Australian Birds and Wildlife. We do need to sit down with people like Birds Australia and actually develop specific protocols for birds, and in that way, we can make sure that we've got sensitive and appropriate development of wind
farms that the community and the society is comfortable with and that mean that we have the protection of not just the climate but the other values  that we hold dear.

Alexandra de Blas: Karl Mallon from the Australian Wind Energy Association.
Guests on this program: 
Tim Le Roy, Spokesman, Coastal Guardians Victoria,  timleroy@optusnet.com.au 
Karl Mallon, Director of Community Relations, Australian Wind Energy Association 

Further information: 
Australian Wind Energy Association    http://www.auswea.com.au/ 

Mandatory Renewable Energy Target Review   http://www.mretreview.gov.au/ 

Inquiry into employment in the environment sector 
Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage report - 1 December 2003 

Presenter: Alexandra de Blas. Producer: Jackie May
© 2005 Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Copyright information: http://abc.net.au/common/copyrigh.htm
Privacy information: http://abc.net.au/privacy.htm

Jeremy Gobbo QC
Matthew Townsend
23 May 2005

What is planning blight?  The expression is not defined in legislation or explained in case law.  In January 1983 a junior barrister by the name of Stuart Morris delivered a report to the then State Labor Government in relation to proposals for new land acquisition and compensation legislation.  He considered amongst other things issues related to land affected by blight.  He defined ‘blight' to mean the reduced saleability or value of land, as a result of the possible future acquisition of the land for a proposed public project, where the landowner has no legal right to claim compensation. 
Mr Morris' report was itself the subject of a report to the Minister, this time by a group called the Planning Blight Task Group.  It reported in July 1983:
The ordinary meaning of the word ‘blight' is much wider than that given in the Morris Report definition.  In effect, it is synonymous with ‘depreciation', when concerned with the value of land.  Thus, the depreciation caused by town planning controls, or the announcement of a public project, is usually referred to as ‘planning blight'.  Again, the detrimental effect of an actual public project, such as a freeway, on nearby property will often be referred to as ‘blight'.
In the case of wind generated power projects there is no acquisition, no public project as such and there is no announcement of a change to planning controls affecting particular land.  But there is however, on one view, an ill wind that bears no good, namely a series of decisions and initiatives which supports the establishment of wind farms along the Victorian coastline.  Many affected and potentially affected landowners see this as a blight in the truest sense.
This paper looks at aspects of decisions made in this State in relation to windfarms.  It looks at the recently gazetted policies and guidelines produced by the Minister for Planning in relation to windfarms.  It considers some of the background factors bearing upon the renewable energy debate.  It ultimately seeks to answer the question posed as the subject for this session.


The consideration of large scale wind energy projects commenced in Victoria with the consideration of a proposal by West Australian company Energy Equity to site 33, 67 metre tall wind turbines across much of the western and southern parts of Cape Bridgewater.
The application was initially approved by the Glenelg Shire Council, but was appealed to VCAT by a number of local landowners.
The application was heard by the planning list of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in October 1998.
After a three day hearing, the Tribunal allowed the Application for Review and directed that no permit issue.

Visual Impact

The Tribunal cited the visual impact of the proposal as being its reason for rejecting the application:
The subject site may not lie within or abutting a world heritage or even a national park site.  It does however exhibit very special attributes and the evidence has demonstrated that, in comparative terms, these are highly significant for Victoria.  The evidence pointed also to the social and economic benefits for the region which have been occurring as persons of enterprise have sought to take advantage of the CapeÆs natural and scenic attributes.  This has been of relatively recent origin due no doubt to the relative remoteness of the location.  Just as with a wind farm, these endeavours have locational requirements which are met at the Cape.  Despite its remoteness it is close enough to a population centre and sufficiently well serviced with roads and other infrastructure to facilitate viable tourism opportunities, without being so remote as to preclude all but wilderness area visitors.  Accordingly, whilst it is very difficult to put a dollar value, on the social, environmental and economic benefits of maintaining the scenic and scientific values of this Cape, we find on balance that these benefits outweigh the benefits of a wind power station at this site.
The Tribunal was largely untroubled by other arguments relied upon by the Objectors.

The Tribunal considered that concerns over noise were the second most disputed issue before it.  It explained:
Put briefly, two types of noise emissions are in contention with this technology û mechanical noise and aerodynamic noise.  There was clear evidence, particularly in relation to earlier wind farming ventures in the USA and Great Britain, that mechanical noise had been a problem in the past.  We were satisfied from the evidence from all expert witnesses, including Mr Hutchinson, that this has been all but eliminated and is no longer a matter for concern.
The other noise emission is that of the wind passing over the blades which results in a "whooshing" sound.  This sound will occur only when the blades are moving and therefore only when the wind is blowing.  It is generally agreed that at high wind speeds the background or ambient sound of the wind will mask the whooshing sound of the rotors.
The permit applicant had indicated a willingness to be held, by way of a planning permit condition, to the noise levels set in New Zealand Standard NZ56808:1998 - The Assessment and Management of Sound From Wind Turbine Generators.  At Section 5.3, the standard recognises that "sound from a WTG (wind turbine generator) that has special audible characteristics (clearly audible tones, impulses, or modulations of sound levels) is more likely to arouse adverse community response at lower levels than sound without such characteristics".  The standard suggests that a 5dB(A) penalty should be applied to adjust for a "special audible characteristic", where it is present.
Because the Tribunal upheld the Objectors' appeal on the basis of visual impact, there was no need for it to finally determine the question of noise.  And while the Tribunal indicated that it had some reservations about the capacity of the proposal to comply with the New Zealand Wind Turbine Generators noise standard, it suggested that this problem could have been dealt with by "different siting or indeed elimination of turbine locations."

Electro-magnetic Interference
The Objectors also argued that wind turbine generators had shown a capacity to interfere with television reception.
However, the Tribunal accepted evidence suggesting that while interference with television reception might occur at houses within a few hundred metres of the turbines, remedial measures were possible and could satisfactorily be dealt with through permit condition.

Bird Strike
A report into bird strike was also prepared by the Permit Applicant.  In relation to this issue, the Tribunal concluded that the likely levels of mortality would be low compared with mortality from other sources such as overhead power lines.  The Tribunal, however, suggested that a survey to determine whether the Cape plays host to any particular pairs or groups of endangered species should have been undertaken in order to enable consideration to be given to the relocation of such pairs or groups.


The second application for a substantial windfarm development in Victoria was made by Queensland corporation, Stanwell, for a windfarm at Toora in South Gippsland.
This proposal was for a facility comprising 12 wind turbines each with a tower height of 67m and a maximum height (including rotor blades), of approximately 100m.
Once more, the application was approved by the local council at first instance and once more, the application was taken on appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
This time, however, the appeal was unsuccessful, and the Tribunal directed that a planning permit issue.

Visual Amenity
Visual impact was again the central issue.
On this occasion, however, the Tribunal determined that because of the limited number, clean lines and relatively wide spacing of the wind turbines, the visual integrity of the landscape above Toora would not be unacceptably prejudiced.
In reaching this conclusion, the Tribunal had regard to the fact that the landscape was already highly modified and that it could not be regarded as being of "outstanding" natural beauty - as was the case at Cape Bridgewater.  The Tribunal commented:
The wind turbines will change the landscape above Toora.  However, given the substantially altered and not unique character of Silcocks Hill and surrounding places, we find that the visual impact will not be substantially detrimental to its landscape qualities.  It will simply be consistent with what must be expected from a facility of this sort, but one which has been sited such that no overpowering or excessive visual impact will result.  This has been achieved not only by careful design of the structures themselves but can be attributed also to their relatively small number and their uncluttered placement.  In this regard the proposed development represents a very different outcome to that which would have resulted at Cape Bridgewater had the thirty three turbines proposed under that application been approved.

In relation to other issues, the Tribunal expressed the view that "[n]oise is a recognised problem when siting wind turbines in any proximity to residential properties."
As with the Hislop case, the Tribunal adopted the New Zealand standard for wind turbine generators as being the appropriate standard against which the performance of the proposal was to be judged:
The Tribunal considers it more appropriate to use a standard specific to a use, as opposed to a general standard which is a guideline under review at this time.  Further the New Zealand standard is designed to cater for the control of a dynamic system taking account of the varying wind speeds.  It has a well thought out and clearly set down system of compliance testing after installation.  It also clearly enunciates the effect on the allowable limits where special audible characteristics such as tones, impulses or modulation are apparent.  The Tribunal consider[s] the New Zealand standard is the more appropriate acoustic standard for use in the operational control of windfarms and will allow its use for this purpose.
The Tribunal imposed a monitoring regime that was to commence two months after the commissioning of the first turbine and to be continuously conducted until 12 months after the commissioning of the last turbine.  The Tribunal also declared that the results of the noise monitoring was to be made publicly available.

Bird Strike
In relation to bird strike, the Tribunal concluded that from the studies to date and the evidence presented through the course of the hearing, the risk of unacceptable bird mortality is low.  The Tribunal did, however, acknowledge that little real information is available as to the interaction of birds and wind turbines in Australia and to this end, it considered that investigations of bird behaviour at the wind farm site should continue prior to construction of the wind farm and throughout its first two years of operation.
Interestingly, the Tribunal left the door open to the imposition of "corrective measures" should the Council and Department of Natural Resources and Environment find the rate of bird mortality to be unacceptable.

Electro-magnetic interference
In relation to electro-magnetic interference, the Tribunal imposed a condition requiring the Permit Holder to carry out a pre and post construction qualitative survey of TV & radio reception of representative residences, and also of electro magnetic signals from all radio base stations and microwave repeating stations, within a 10 kilometre radius of the windfarm site.
If the qualitative survey established any detrimental increase in interference to reception and/or signals, it required the applicant to implement mitigation measures to return affected reception and/or signals to pre-construction quality.

The Toora windfarm development has now been largely constructed, and is in the process of being commissioned.

In August 2000, Pacific Hydro Ltd (PHL) announced its intention to develop 120 wind turbines at four sites in south west Victoria û Cape Bridgewater, Cape Nelson, Cape Sir William Grant in Glenelg Shire and at Yambuk, near Codrington in Moyne Shire.
This project, known as the Portland Wind Energy Project, planned a number of turbines on land very close to locations rejected by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal as being too visually sensitive in the previous Cape Bridgewater appeal.
This project was different in one major respect to the previous Energy Equity Proposal. Not only did the application represent the largest wind energy proposal in Australia at that time, the package of 120 turbines was said to part of a plan to establish a wind turbine manufacturing industry in Portland.
The State Minister for Planning confirmed that an EES was required.  The Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage decided that approval was required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  Planning permits were also required.
It transpired that the Minister for Planning decided to roll the processes into one.  The permit applications were called in and an advisory committee was appointed.  Its functions were integrated with the EES panel.  Hearings were conducted in February, March and April this year and a report submitted in June.
In August the Minister released her assessment.  The task of the assessment was said to be to review the likelihood, magnitude and significance of a range of potential adverse environmental impacts, and to weigh them against the expected project benefits.  Those benefits were summarised as:
* an increase in the security and diversity of Victoria's future energy supply;
* a major expansion of renewable energy generation in Victoria, thereby making a substantial contribution to sustainable energy generation and reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions; and
* a substantial boost to both economic outputs and employment in Portland and other parts of regional Victoria.
The Minister concluded that the benefits of the project would far outweigh the potential disbenefits.

Visual Impact
In relation to visual impact, the Minister concluded that the establishment of wind turbines at the four Portland Wind Energy Project sites had the potential to degrade key landscape views, particularly at Cape Bridgewater.
For this reason, seven turbines proposed for the tip of the Cape were found to present an unacceptable visual impact that could not be adequately mitigated.  The Panel advised against the inclusion of these turbines in the overall scheme and the Minister agreed.  Other turbines were be relocated.
The Minister summed up her assessment in relation to visual impact thus:
It is my assessment that the landscape impact of the 7 turbines proposed at the tip of Cape Bridgewater is unacceptable, and the area is an unsuitable location for a wind farm.  Although there are potential landscape impacts from turbines proposed at other locations, these impacts must be considered along with mitigating measures and the potential net benefits of the proposal in order to make balanced decisions on both whether approvals should be granted and appropriate conditions.

Bird Strike
The Minister concluded that the main potential fauna impacts of the Portland Wind Energy Project relate to the risk of birds and bats colliding with the wind turbine rotor blades.
The Minister concluded that on the basis of material presented to the planning panel that:
* the risks to Orange Bellied Parrots were very low;
* there will be no significant impacts on the White Bellied Sea Eagle, provided the set backs from cliffs and wetlands were adequate; and that
* there would not be a significant impact on local populations of raptor species, waterbirds or bats.

Insofar as noise is concerned, the Minister also concluded that the New Zealand wind turbine standard was the appropriate benchmark for ensuring the amenity of neighbouring landowners would be protected.
Nonetheless, the Applicant Pacific Hydro Limited was required to undertake a pre-construction and post-construction monitoring program to verify compliance with the limits set out in the New Zealand standard.

At about the same time the Minister for Planning was announcing the Victorian Government's response to the Portland Wind Energy Project, the deputy premier of Victoria, Mr John Thwaites, released guidelines for the future development of windfarms in Victoria.
The purpose of the "Policy and planning guidelines for development of wind energy facilities in Victoria" is stated to be to outline how the Victorian Government will facilitate the appropriate development of wind energy facilities, balancing environmental, social and economic outcomes.
These policy and planning guidelines change the regulatory environment for windfarms in Victoria in two significant ways:
First, the Minister for Planning will be the responsible authority for all wind energy proposals that are 30 MW or greater.  It appears that decisions of all responsible authorities will remain subject to review de novo by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Second, wind energy facilities will be excluded from all land reserved under the National Parks Act 1975.  The policy suggests that this will exclude wind energy facilities from approximately 43% of the length of Victoria's coastline and 32% of the area within 1 kilometre of the coast.  However, given the visual sensitivity of land enjoying national park classification, the prohibition is unlikely to remove opportunities that would have existed under the previous regime.
The Guidelines also provide a number of statements of policy that will bear upon in any application to develop a windfarm in Victoria.  The first of these is in relation to visual impact.  It provides:
The landscape value of a site is highly subjective.
Whilst National Parks are established primarily for the conservation and protection of environmental values, they also protect some of Victoria's most significant landscapes, including many along the coast.
Other landscapes may also be valued by the community for their scenic and recreational value. The existence of a Significant Landscape Overlay ensures an appropriate level of consideration in decision making.
The reference to the Significant Landscape Overlay is interesting insofar as it could be said that the policy recognises land subject to National Parks and Significant Landscape Overlays, with the potential implication that land not so recognised is appropriate for the development of windfarms.  Insofar as Cape Bridgewater is not recognised by a Significant Landscape Overlay, it could be said that the Guidelines are opening up the Victorian coast for the development of windfarms, rather than making the development regime more restrictive.

Bird Strike
The Guidelines also add no new controls for bird strike. Rather they simply provide that:
While international experience in the Europe and USA shows that the level of bird mortality associated with modern wind energy facilities is not significant, nevertheless, the likelihood of any risk to protected bird species needs to be carefully assessed and adaptive management applied. 

Native Vegetation
The Guidelines do, however, place more onerous obligations of developers of windfarms relative to other forms of development, insofar as the no-net loss of native vegetation is imposed for windfarm project development:
Losses of native vegetation and habitat as a result of the siting of turbines and associated infrastructure should be more than offset by commensurate gains through revegetation.

The development of wind generated energy projects is likely to accelerate in forthcoming years.  There are at least two reasons for this.
First, the Federal Government has already mandated that by 2010, 2% of electricity consumption must be produced from renewable resources.  Wind generated energy is one form of production from renewable resources which appears to be viable.
Through its Mandatory Renewable Energy Target which commenced on 1 April 2001, the  Commonwealth Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 requires the generation of 9,500 gigawatt hours of extra renewable electricity per year by 2010.
The Portland project was said to be capable of generating 680 gigawatt hours from its 120 turbines, sufficient to power 113,000 Victorian households.  Stanwell's Toora project could supply 9000 households from its 12 turbines.
Clearly more than 1000 turbines would be required if the Renewable Energy Target were to be met from wind energy alone.  Whilst it is not suggested that Victoria will provide all of this generation, it seems likely that there will be a substantial number of turbines proposed for Victoria's coastal areas in the next few years, particularly given the encouragement provided by the Bracks government.
The second reason for the proliferation of wind energy developments is the growing market demand by consumers for green energy, or energy generated by renewable sources and sold to consumers at a premium.  Indeed, the number of households choosing environmentally friendly power options is said to have increased by more than 30 per cent in the past year.
The Sustainable Energy Development Authority's national audit of accredited programs found the amount of green power used by participating households had jumped from 290,355 megawatt hours in 1999-2000 to 454,505 megawatt hours in 2000-2001.
Origin Energy, for example, has entered into an agreement with Pacific Hydro Limited to purchase the total output of energy from the Codrington Wind Farm in Victoria.  This enabled it to offer customers a 100% wind product, known as Green Earth Plus.
Clearly there is a growing awareness and consciousness in the community in relation to clean energy.  95% of VictoriaÆs electricity comes from brown coal from the Latrobe Valley.  More than half of Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity generation.  Electricity consumption is projected to increase by over 15% by the year 2010.  Initiatives are necessary if this extra consumption is not to be met simply by producing more electricity from brown coal.  The State Government's Greenhouse Strategy released in June this year outlines the GovernmentÆs commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Apart from facilitating wind farm projects, the Government proposed to purchase a minimum of 5% of its electricity from green power.
Accordingly there are forces at work at the supply and the demand ends of the wind generated energy equation.  There is a mandatory obligation to create green energy and there is a growing commitment to consumption of green energy.  With international pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is likely that the push for green energy will increase.  This can only serve to provide a more compelling case for finding that the planning and environmental balance of benefits and disbenefits favours more wind farms.

So it seems that wind generated power has a bright future as a viable form of renewable energy, but at what cost?  Whilst many would argue that renewable energy is necessarily the way of the future, and that the environment will not survive unabated greenhouse gas production, the contribution of wind generated energy in the short term is small beer.  Clearly wind energy cannot replace brown coal.  It can only ever be a part of a wider environmentally sensitive strategy.
Is the damage and potential damage to Victoria's coastal landscapes and the direct amenity impacts on neighbours a fair price to pay?  Many landowners believe the visual impacts will destroy sensitive environments such as Wilsons Promontory forever.  There is genuine concern that wind farm proposals will blight these areas.
An examination of the new planning policies and guidelines reveals that decision makers will still be obliged to have regard to the issues considered so carefully by VCAT in the Cape Bridgewater and Toora proposals and by the Panel and Advisory Committee in the Portland case.  Whilst one anticipates that most of the technical issues can and will be satisfactorily resolved, siting and visual impact issues will continue to turn on a detailed analysis of the sensitivity of the area in question.  One thing however seems clear:  the planning system does not treat wind turbine generators or the prospect of large numbers of them as a planning blight in any sense of that expression.  They are here to stay.  One would expect that they will only be defeated in the most sensitive of locations.

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