Robert Smith is more comfortable cultivating his property on the edge of Stanley, northwest Tasmania, than protesting.
- Wind farm to be built four kilometers from historic Stanley Township
- About 50 megawatts of electricity will be transported via an underground cable to the existing Port Latta substation
- But locals are worried about the noise and the impact it will have on the city’s tourism
But a proposal to build a 12-turbine wind farm on a neighboring cattle property prompted him to come to town on his tractor to participate in this week’s anti-wind rally.
“I have nothing against wind turbines. It’s just in the wrong place,” Smith said.
He has joined around 100 people, including farmers, fishermen and tourism operators, carrying signs expressing their concerns – and he believes more people in the community are concerned.
“There are a lot of people who are probably against it, but they’re too scared to come and say we don’t want it in case they offend their other friend,” Smith said.
Local hotelier Kerry Houston is leading the charge and knows it’s hard work in a small village like Stanley.
“It’s a wonderful community and we all want to work together, even though we are struggling with a pretty difficult problem.”
The wind farm will be built four kilometers from historic Stanley Township.
About 50 megawatts of electricity will be transported via an underground cable to the existing Port Latta substation.
Ms Houston said people were concerned about the noise and visual impact of the turbines.
“Take them elsewhere”
Local fisherman Mick Murphy worries the turbines will deter tourists – a vital market for his daily catch.
“Take them somewhere else, take them to the west coast of Tassie or wherever,” he said.
“You have miles and miles of land, windswept, nice and flat, they can put thousands in there if they want to do the world a favor in terms of carbon.
Stanley’s proposal is the first venture for renewable energy company Epuron in Tasmania.
“This part of the site has a very good wind resource… it is the best wind resource in which I participated in the measurement, it is a very, very strong and constant wind, there is also a place where the project can connect to the Tasmanian system at Port Latta, ”Epuron said. said executive director Martin Poole.
After working on the project for five years, the company was surprised by this week’s protest.
“Until recently, we thought the community was understanding and accepted, I think that could be an indication of the level of activity that we see in renewables and in electricity in general,” he said. added.
Mayor Daryl Quilliam agrees.
“When it comes to counseling, we need to keep a balanced view on it and we just need to find as much information as possible and see why people are doing what they are doing.”
It will probably take another 12 months before the project passes before the local council.
Noise “very rarely audible”, according to the company
The company said the project was still in the planning stage.
“There are about a dozen topics that need to be studied, from traffic and transport to avian ecology… these studies are being done and we are in the process of writing them into an environmental impact statement,” Mr. Poole.
Epuron has also made maps showing what he describes as a “low visual impact” on the city and is trying to allay community concerns about noise.
“It will very rarely, if ever, be audible in town because it is just too far away,” Mr Poole said.
Epuron is far from the only renewable energy developer facing fierce public scrutiny.
The nearby Robbins Island wind farm project has also faced opposition – as questions arise about the benefits Tasmanians derive from these projects.
“Not in my garden,” according to protesters in Stanley.
“[I] I absolutely agree that the world needs renewable energy, I don’t think this is a good place for it, ”Ms. Houston said.