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Landscape Guardians

One of the Wind Power Ethics pages*

If the so-called Landscape Guardians truly cared about looking after the landscape they would support renewable energy because it is essential in the fight to minimise damaging climate change and ocean acidification.

There is a piece about the Australian Landscape Guardians on another page on this site. I was moved to create this page when I read some false statements from the Eastern Mount Lofty Landscape Guardians in regard to the Palmer Wind Farm.

If those people who vocally oppose wind power have truth on their side, why do they lie so much?

What are the facts?
The reputable Australia Institute provides the facts on Wind Enegy, Climate and Health

What is important?
My opinion is of little importance. It is the facts and the research that matter, and the reasoning that can be based on them.

Written 2010/10/06, modified 2016/02/29
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com
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Landscaped Guardian Tony Walker talks to Murray Valley Standard's Joanne Fosdike

The following was published in the Murray Valley Standard, 2013/10/05, the article was written by Joanne Fosdike who was speaking to LG representative Tony Walker.

The facts
The truth regarding the more important false claims from the Landscape Guardians is given in boxes like this.

What they say – Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges Landscape Guardians

Joanne Fosdike: Who are the Mount Lofty Ranges Landscape Guardians? According to their website the Eastern Mt Lofty Ranges Landscape Guardians is an organisation of residents and landholders whose aim is to preserve the flora, fauna, amenity and tranquility of the Mt Lofty Ranges near the Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, Cambrai, Sedan and surrounding areas in South Australia. Some people think anti-wind farm activists are 'climate deniers' and maybe a bit loopy?

In truth Landscape Guardians groups very rarely take part in any real environmental action. They confine themselves to opposing wind power developments.

 
Emissions intensity on the Australian NEM
Emissions intensity
Graph credit – Professor Mike Sandiford, University of Melbourne; data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)

Tony Walker: This is the perception, that we are right wing fascist climate deniers but the reality is many of us are tree hugging greenies. We are regarded as wacky but we are specialists in this area now.

Joanne Fosdike: Are you anti-green?

Tony Walker: We are environmental activists. This debate is not about green but greed.

The world must replace its fossil fuelled electricity generation with renewables such as wind. To not do so is environmental suicide.

Joanne Fosdike: What is it your group wants?

Tony Walker: We want clean green energy but it needs to work for the state. We need to look at the long term future and look at where our resources are going to come from. Turbines just make people think that something is happening but no carbon is being saved by building turbines.

The graph at the right shows that this statement is false; note how greenhouse gas emissions intensity has greatly declined in SA, far more than in any other state, in the period when most of our wind farms were built.

 
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Joanne Fosdike: How many people are in your group?

Tony Walker: We have 50 members but about 200 people come out with us.

Joanne Fosdike: What are your main objections to wind turbines?

Tony Walker: People think that if you put up turbines it will stop global warming but studies show there are no carbon savings at all.

What studies? There was one "study" that I know of that made this claim. It was not published in any peer-reviewed journal, it was publicised by the anti-environment so-called Environment Editor of The Australian, Graham Lloyd. The author of the "study" was Hamish Cumming and his arguments were quite unconvincing.

An extensive report sponsored by the US Department of energy stated unambiguously that: "Wind- and solar-induced cycling has a negligible impact on avoided CO2 emissions." It follows that almost all of the electricity generated by wind (and solar) sources in Australia will displace polluting fossil fuel-fired power.

One of South Australia's coal fired power stations, Thomas Playford B, has been shut down, probably perminantly, due to the state's wind farms. The only remaining coal fired power station in the state, the Northern, is only used for about half of each year. It is totally beyond belief that greenhouse emissions have not been reduced.

Tony Walker: They are big, ugly and destroy the landscape. None of these wind farm companies are South Australian and 96 percent of the wind energy generated in South Australia goes to Victoria and South Australia is missing out. Victoria sells us their base load electricity supply and our electricity prices are being driven up. Lets compare ourselves with the rest of the country – we are paying higher prices because we don't have a decent base load power generator facility.

It would be interesting to know where Mr Walker got his 96% figure, which is quite unbelievable. How could we supply ourselves if 96% of our wind power was exported? The Australian Energy Market Operator has stated that 27% of SA's electricity is generated by wind turbines.

In what way is SA missing out? Our electricity supply is as reliable as ever.

Far from wind power forcing electricity prices up, wholesale electricity prices have been falling and the Chief Executive of the Energy Supply Association of Australia has said that renewables, including wind, have been suppressing wholesale power prices. The electricity industry recognises that increased retail prices have been due to big spending on the power transmission system.

Joanne Fosdike: This is not your first wind farm objection?

Tony Walker: We've been through it all with the Keyneton wind farm issue. I've been fighting it for two years and three months – as a group it has been longer.

 
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Letter to Murray Valley Standard from Landscape Guardian Tony Walker

 

Why the lies?

Why do people like the Landscape Guardians try to discredit wind power by telling lies? Perhaps it is because, as Mr Walker seems to realise, if they did not they would be left with very few arguments. (One of the few being, as Mr Walker said, that some people don't like the look of wind turbines.)

However, even if you are willing to ignore the ethical objections to telling lies, it is still a very short-term strategy. Your lies will be exposed, and when they are, not only have you lost your argument, you have also lost your credibility.

Or is it that the typical Landscape Guardian simply does not know the facts, isn't motivated to learn them, and simply repeats anything negative that he or she happens to hear?

Tony Walker of the Eastern Mount Lofty Landscape Guardians had a letter published in the Murray Valley Standard on 2013/11/26 in which he made a number of highly questionable claims about wind power.

In what follows the links lead to more information and supporting arguments.

His first was that 90% of SA's wind-generated electricity goes to Victoria. While I greatly doubt that the figure is as high as this, why would it be a bad thing if it was true? We used to import a lot of power from Victoria that was generated in some of the dirtiest brown coal-fired power stations in Australia. We are now exporting clean power to Victoria.

He has at least moderated his previous claim that 96% of SA's wind electricity goes to Victoria.

Miniscule?

He claimed that the output of our wind farms was 'miniscule'. In the real world more than 25% of SA's electricity is generated by wind farms.

Other renewables?

 
Cost of Energy Technologies
Cost of energy
The X axis is costs in US$/MWh
Graph Credit, World Energy Council
He suggests that other renewables would be preferable to wind. The economic fact is that wind power is at present by far the cheapest of the renewable options (solar PV is catching up). That Mr Walker mentioned wave power suggests that he knows very little of the subject; a recent report from the World Energy Council put the cost of wind power at around $80 per megawatt-hour and wave power at around $500/MWh.

See the graph on the right and there is more information here).


Greenhouse gas abatement

 
Emissions intensity on the Australian NEM
Emissions intensity
Graph credit – Professor Mike Sandiford, University of Melbourne; data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)
Mr Walker claimed that "there is no evidence" of any savings in air pollution due to wind power; he could hardly be more wrong. The Thomas Playford B coal-fired power station at Port Augusta has been shut down largely due to wind power. The Northern Power station at PA operates around half of each year rather than full time largely because of wind power. The graph on the right shows that greenhouse emissions in SA have greatly reduced in the same time as our wind power has grown.

Electricity prices

Mr Walker blames high electricity prices on wind power. In fact the CEO of the Energy Supply Association of Australia has said that wind power is suppressing wholesale electricity prices.

Raptors (birds of prey)

Mr Walker wrote that raptors are not the usual road kill and implied that many are killed by wind turbines. Perhaps he has not seen how many dead wedge-tailed eagles there are along the sides of the Stuart Highway, and he might be interested to know that Dr Cindy Hull, who has been studying bird deaths and wind turbines, particularly at the big Woolnorth Wind Farm in Tasmania, has recorded zero wedge tailed eagle deaths there in the last three years.

Mr Walker did not mention the fact that the world's bird protection groups support wind power because they know that uncontrolled climate change will be far worse for birds than wind turbines.

Need for backup

Mr Walker uses the common argument that wind farms create a need for more backup generators. In fact there has always been a need for backup generators. All power stations go off-line for routine maintenance or for unexpected breakdown; the advent of wind power has not increased the need for backup.

Wind farms save lives

Of course Mr Walker did not mention the fact that if not for our wind power, fossil fuel fired power stations would be causing many more serious illnesses and deaths due to their air pollution.

Don't mention climate change

Along with most other Landscape Guardians, Mr Walker seems not much bothered about the impending disasters due to climate change and ocean acidification. The world must change to renewable energy such as wind power if we are to have any chance of giving our children, and the rest of the biosphere, a decent future.

Denmark

Mr Walker wrote about Denmark. The area of Denmark is 43,000 square kilometres; about 2/3 that of Tasmania. Five and a half million Danes share this tiny area with 60% more wind power than there is in the whole of Australia. Mr Walker implies that the Danes are building wind turbines out at sea because they don't like to live near them. Quite the contrary, there are many community owned wind farms and many turbines much closer to homes in Denmark than in Australia; they are building off-shore because they have little space to spare onshore (and the wind resource is better offshore).

What he got right

Perhaps the only statement that Mr Walker made that was entirely true was when he pointed out that many people do not like the look of wind turbines.
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