Balancing act between turbine factions

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ENVIRONMENT: Many of us who have stopped in places such as the Yass Roadhouse would have realised just how windy it is in the higher areas to west of Yass. Thus it makes sense that some companies are looking to place wind turbines over an area stretching from Cumbamurra to just south of Goondah.

A total of 134 turbines are proposed to be placed in the area by the company Epuron, and for some land owners, it means another source of income, with one landowner being offered $30,000 per year to host three wind turbines on their property.

However, there is considerable opposition to them.

Mark Glover, an opponent of the wind turbines, compiled a submission to the Select Committee on Wind Turbines in May 2013 discussing their impact aerial agricultural operations.

It argued that wind turbines cause an area of turbulence up to 20 kilometres downwind, and cited the Aerial Agriculture Association of Australia’s recommendation that its members don’t fly in areas with wind turbines due to this turbulence.

The submission also argued that a pilot taking off from the airstrip at ‘Talbragar’, in the Harden Shire, would be unable to gain sufficient altitude before encountering the turbines.

The New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment also found in February of this year that aircraft taking off from nine airstrips in the area would encounter the same problem in being unable to gain sufficient altitude. This has caused the project to stall.

“We are really in their [Department of Planning] hands at the moment,” said Epuron Construction Manager, Andrew Wilson.

Mr Wilson said that the project has been on hold for a number of months, and meetings of the Yass Valley Wind Turbine Community Consultative Committee will not take place until further developments in the project occur.

This may come as good news for opponents of wind turbines, who point to their lack of aesthetic appeal in an otherwise idyllic country landscape.

But their most significant, and controversial, argument is that wind turbines cause negative health effects akin to seasickness.

According to Associate Professor Simon Carlisle, of the University of Sydney, low frequency sound, known as infrasound, has an effect on the human body.

“It’s stimulating the system that’s involved in balance — the vestibular system. So there’s some good physiology, some good neuroscience, that this does exist and it’s been shown in animal models,” he told The Australian last year.

Although a small percentage of people may be susceptible to these low frequency sounds, they can experience feelings of nausea and sleep disturbance.

However, the National Health and Medical Research Council has concluded, “there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans.”

The Yass Valley Wind Farm project is currently on exhibition.


Read Scoop’s main story here. 

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