Stockyard Hill split on value of turbines, says resident

ALAN Pitcher knows the proposed Stockyard Hill Wind Farm is dividing his community.

But he believes it is money – not possible adverse health effects – that is splitting friends and neighbours apart.

Mr Pitcher, who said he would gain financially by hosting several turbines on his farm, said he wished the compensation was split more evenly between the townspeople.

“Just because I have a high hill where they can stick a turbine, and Joe down the bottom of the hill doesn’t, I think I should be compensated and Joe should be compensated,” Mr Pitcher said.

“There needs to be a more even spread of the money.”

Mr Pitcher said he had recognised the benefits of wind power many years ago when travelling through Europe, where turbines were common in Germany, Scotland and Spain, and now China after originating in Sweden.

“There are no health problems in those areas,” he said.

Years ago, Mr Pitcher, along with many other landowners in the district, took out a lease on their land with Tasmanian Hydro, which is now paying wind farm dividends.

“I’m prepared to put them on my property and yes, we get monetary gain for ourselves and for the community,” he said.

“But there is an opportunity for employment and to inject money back into the community.

“I’d be the first jumping up and down if I thought something was wrong with them.”

He said German technology was constantly improving the turbines’ designs but admitted people liked or didn’t like the visual aspect.

However, he pointed to regions like South Australia and California which operate to a considerable extent on wind power.

Mr Pitcher said a proposed federal government study into wind farm health effects, just four years after a National Health and Medical Research Council “rapid review” found little evidence of health issues, was caused by political lobbying.

He said if this study supported the 2010 NHMRC finding, then any wind farm sickness theories would be “blown out of the water”.

"It's even dividing friends and neighbours. Whatever you do, don’t mention the war"

Another Stockyard Hill resident, who did not wish to be named, said the issue had caused considerable tension in the community.

“It’s even dividing friends and neighbours. Whatever you do, don’t mention the war,” the resident said. 

The resident said they were not anti-wind farm but were concerned about the health effects of proposed overhead powerlines.

“They (Origin) neglected to tell us about the powerlines.

“To my knowledge, they won’t be underground. I’m pretty annoyed.”

The resident also backed the proposed study, saying it was important to keep looking at health effects, but said it would still probably not reach any conclusion.

“I’m happy for further studies, but I don’t think they’ll reach a definitive finding.”

The Stockyard Hill Wind Farm will include 157 turbines over an area between Skipton and Beaufort.

The proposed wind farm will connect to the national electricity grid via the transmission line near Lismore.

It was initially proposed to include 242 turbines, but that was reduced after a panel hearing in 2010.

The wind farm is expected to be operational next year.