As the crow flies, there will be just 80kilometres separating the Yass post office with the furthest of 12 proposedwind-farms in close proximity to the township.
Along with the fully-operational windfarms of Capital Hill, Crookwell, Cullerin Range and Gunning, a further eightprojects have been approved, are close to being approved or are already under construction.
With an estimated total of 700 turbines,a number of concerns are being raised. There are objections based on aestheticdegradation, property values and the effect of infrasound but there is oneissue that has raised significant concerns and that’s the question mark overhow these structures could obstruct our Rural Fire Service.
Yass Landscape Guardians (YLG) onTuesday released a survey showing that out of 112 interviews the group carriedout with residents situated within eight kilometres of the proposed Yass Valleywind farm, 70 per cent opposed the development. The survey, authenticated byGalaxy Research, confirms that members of the community are apprehensive aboutthe turbine influx.
“It’s the result of a combinationof things, but yes we can attribute the effect it will have on fire-fightingaircraft as being one of the major concerns for residents and landowners,”YLG spokesman Mark Glover said.
The Rural Fire Service is currentlydetailing a report on this issue but Bowning resident and Landcare supportofficer Alan Cole is certain fire fighting will be hindered, especially alongthe slopes of the Black Range.
“Of serious concern for theresidents of Bowning and the town of Yass should be the impact a forest of windturbines located along the entire length of the Black Range will have on thecapacity of the RFS to undertake aerial suppression of major wildfires,”said Mr Cole.
“The recent Cobbler Road fireclearly demonstrated the value of aerial fire suppression which enabled thesuppression of this wildfire on the eastern slopes of the Black Range.”
Turbulence caused by the turbines meansthat water-bombing planes would be unable to fight fires burning through windfarms and would have to wait to catch them on the other side.
Mike Inkster attended a recent councilmeeting to speak on the issue. His Cooks Hill Road property is between twoproposed wind farms at Bango and Rye Park.
“I am awaiting the report, which isnow overdue, but there needs to be a study on all wind farms about what wouldhappen in a fire situation,” Mr Inkster said.
“In relation to the Cobblerbushfire coronial report, they will do some modelling to show where the firewould have ended up if the Yass Valley wind farm had been built, but there isno doubt the level of destruction would have been far worse.”
Deputy Mayor Geoff Frost put a notice ofmotion before council regarding seven concerns about wind farm developments andasking that council notify state and federal governments of these concerns. Much discussion followed, with Councillor Michael McManus insteadmoving that council call for an immediate halt on wind farm approvals untilafter the RFS investigation.
Councillor Gary Ware asked that thematter be ‘left on the table’ for a month to enable further investigation,which was carried. It was also resolved that council should provide tocouncillors a report on wind turbines and bushfire prone land.
“Mike raised legitimate concernsregarding fighting fires around wind turbines,” Cr McManus said.
While he sympathises with those mostaffected, Cr McManus can also see the positive impact of wind farms.
“If you believe in global warming,if you believe in climate change, then we need to address that issue and windgenerators are one way of addressing that issue,” he said.
As Cr McManus explained, council canonly appeal to the state government but they are hoping to add weight to theirargument through the investigation into Cobbler Road.
“At the end of the day, it won’t bea matter for us to really deal with because wind generators are deemed items ofstate significance and local councils don’t have any say in the approvalprocess.”
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