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Why I support the proposed local wind farm

A page of the Wind Power Ethics group*

I am in love with the world the way it is, I do not want to see it damaged, as it will be by climate change and ocean acidification if we do not take serious action. The burning of coal and other fossil fuels is also killing millions of people each year through air pollution. The most immediately viable and ethical alternatives to fossil fuels are wind and solar power.

I not only accept an ethical responsibility to consider the needs of other life on earth, including the people who will come after me, I welcome that responsibility; it gives added meaning to my life.

Beside the environmental and ethical reasons for supporting the project, there are very sound commercial and community reasons, as discussed below.

The group who are opposing the Crystal Brook Energy Park are unwilling or unable to give sound and justifiable reasons for their opposition, apart from not wanting to see and occasionally hear wind turbines.

This page primarily concerns the proposed Crystal Brook Energy Park, but I hope that it will be useful to people who support other wind farms and combined wind/solar projects.

This page was written 2017/06/15, modified 2017/08/23
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com (David K. Clarke) – ©
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I will assume that the reader accepts the reality of anthropogenic climate change and ocean acidification because of the overwhelming evidence for them. Any reader who does not accept climate science may as well stop reading now and go on wallowing in ignorance. Why accept climate science?


Wind turbines south of Crystal Brook
Clement Gap turbines
Clements Gap turbines, the closest of which is about 13km south of my home, 2016/07/08
At the present this is the closest wind farm to Crystal Brook. A few of the Energy Park turbines will be within 5km of parts of the town.


 

Ethical responsibilities

In this page I write about ethical responsibilities; if the reader finds this offensive, uninteresting or irrelevant I invite him or her to stop reading now.
 

Evidence for the many deaths from coal

There is ample evidence from the World Health Organisation, from the prestigious health journal The Lancet, and elsewhere, for the great many deaths due to air pollution from the burning of coal. See Killer Coal.
 

Valid and invalid objections to wind power

I have written elsewhere on this site about the objections to wind farms that have been put forward by the wind farm opponents in Crystal Brook. Please follow the links below to read the facts.

There is convincing evidence that wind farms do not impact adversely on land values or tourism, and wind turbines do not make much noise. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"; if people don't like the appearance of wind turbines that is a valid objection, but when people object they should stick to the truth.

The local opposition group have written about bird deaths. In fact wind turbines kill few birds. The UK Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have built a wind turbine at their headquarters because they realise that climate change is a hugely greater threat to birds than are wind turbines.

 

The health lie has gone

The first time a wind farm was proposed at Crystal Brook, in 2010, a local person started spreading the fallacy that wind turbines make people sick. Of course this is ridiculous, and seven years on almost everyone, including lazy sensation-seeking journalists have stopped spreading this particular nonsense.
 
Solar PV farm at Wilpena, South Australia
Solar farm
 

Support your local wind farm

While I have written this page to explain my support for a local wind farm, I hope that it might be useful to others elsewhere who can see beyond selfish, short-term opinions, to the welfare of the planet and of future generations. Another page on this site gives reasons to support wind farms in general.

Background to the project

A wind farm was first proposed within around five kilometres of my home in Crystal Brook, South Australia in or about 2005. This became a serious proposition about 2010, but the company involved at that time dropped the project in 2012. In early 2017 another company, Neoen, made public a proposal for the Crystal Brook Energy Park (CBEP), which would combine a wind farm with a solar PV power station and a large battery bank. Again, the closest turbines would be about five kilometres from my home.

We have had wind farms in South Australia for 14 years at the time of writing, and a substantial amount of solar PV power for perhaps half that time. The main shortcoming with both technologies is that they only operate when the wind blows or when daylight is bright; the proposed battery bank in the CBEP will, to some extent, overcome this limitation; power will be available at other times as well. CBEP will be able to effectively displace polluting fossil fuels; it could quite possibly reduce Australia's greenhouse emissions by two-thirds of a million tonnes each year.

The closest a turbine will be to any house not financially connected with the wind farm is 1.5km. Based on my experience, at that distance the sound will occasionally be audible outside of the house and probably not at all from inside the house.
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How and why I became actively involved

The event that prompted me to write this page was the rise of local opposition to the CBEP. The reasons given for the opposition have been the "impact on land values, tourism and scenery, and noise issues" The opponents also claimed an unacceptable impact of wind turbines on birds. These claims were either false or exaggerated; see the box on the right, 'Valid and invalid objections to wind power'.

Later I read that the energy park opponents claimed that fire-fighting water-bombing aircraft cannot fly near wind turbines. That this is quite false was shown when a fire started outside of the nearby Waterloo Wind Farm and burned up to the turbines (2017/01/17). Water bombers flew near and between the turbines. The wind farm opponents should have known about this; did they ignore it intentionally or were they simply ill-informed?

The people who do not accept that anthropogenic climate change is a real and serious problem are deluding themselves. Those who do accept reality have a responsibility to take action, for the good of the planet and for their children's and grand-children's futures. To oppose wind power is, by default, to support killer-coal.

My interpretation of ethical responsibilities would not allow me to make an exception to my support for necessary developments just because they are close to me. I should also say that I like wind turbines; I see them as graceful, majestic, and a symbol of a saner and more sustainable future; I'd be very happy to have one or more much closer to my home than five kilometres.

Lightning strike will be likely to cause less fires if the turbines are built

Many fires are started by lightning striking a hill-top. If the hill-top is protected by wind turbines the number of fires started by lightning will be reduced; the lightning will be likely to strike a turbine and be safely conducted to earth. On another page I show that the area protected by a turbine with an effective height of 120m will be between 4.5ha (strong protection) and 18ha (some protection). The 34 turbines proposed for the Crystal Brook Energy Park will probably have an effective height of closer to 200m and will therefore provide protection from lightning strike to between 430 and 1700ha (4.3 and 17 square kilometres). I have written on the need for research into this matter on another page on this site.

How the community will benefit if the energy park is built

There will be economic advantages to the area. Turbine hosting farmers will receive lease payments, local contractors will get work, local businesses such as cafes and hotels will get more custom, there will be about 50 direct jobs during construction, and 160 indirect, and five full-time jobs; that's not trivial in a small town.

Pacific Hydro, the operators of Clements Gap Wind Farm donate $50,000 each year for community projects (a total of $385,000 to 107 projects since the wind farm was completed). Many of these projects would have benefited the people who are objecting to the CBEP. Neoen have said that they will provide a community fund of $80,000 a year when and if they build the wind and solar farm.

Some time ago I was on a Lions barbecue at Clare with a lady from Snowtown. I asked her what she thought of the Snowtown Wind Farm. She told me that it was the best thing that had ever happened to the town.

I have put many hours of volunteer work into the Lions Gleeson Wetlands at Clare. Another local wind farm, Waterloo recently provided $2500 for interpretive signs for the wetlands.

What harm will the energy park do?

Local people will have to see the wind turbines. When they go close to them they will hear them; how close they will need to go will depend greatly on the wind conditions at the time and on things like whether there is any noise from road traffic. A very few birds and bats will be killed by the turbines (far fewer than are killed by a single feral cat).

How will the opponents explain their selfish actions to their grandchildren?

I wonder if the people who are opposing the CBEP will dare tell their grandchildren in twenty years, when the full extent of the climate change and ocean acidification disasters has been revealed, that they opposed action to slow greenhouse emissions?

In summary, wind farms displace polluting coal, they are good for the planet and for our children's future, and they are good for the local community.
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Wind farms in the Flinders Ranges

 
Wind resource map of Australia
Wind resources in Oz
Image from Aust. Dept. of the Environment, Renewable Energy Atlas of Australia
(Apparently no longer available)
The red areas have the best wind resources
The group who are opposing the Crystal Brook Energy Park (CBEP) are pushing for the banning of wind farms anywhere in the Flinders Ranges, which cover something like 30,000 square kilometres of South Australia.

As shown on the wind resource map on the right there is an excellent wind resource in the Flinders Ranges (much of the bright red area north of the 'A' of Adelaide on the map).

I suspect that there are parts of the Flinders Ranges where no one would want to see a wind farm built; certainly there are places I would not want to see one. But to outlaw wind farms anywhere in the Flinders Ranges, in a world in which fossil fuel burning, climate change and ocean acidification are huge disasters, would be irresponsible, immoral and absurd.

There is plenty of space in the Flinders Ranges for nature, tourism and wind farms.

Climate change will do enormously more damage to the Flinders Ranges than will this wind farm

The Flinders Ranges is more than a chain of ranges, it is an island of vegetation – in particular Callitris Colluminaris (native cypress-pine) and Eucalyptus camaldulensis (river red-gum) – in surounding semi-desert. Increased temperatures, lower rainfall or more frequent drought will put the ecology of this wonderful area under great stress, quite probably changing it for ever and for the worse.

The opposition has been intentionally misleading

When Australians who have visited the Flinders Ranges hear 'Flinders Ranges' they would think of places like Wilpena (190km from the proposed energy park), Brachina and Bunyeroo (further again) and Arkaroola (340km away). I have little doubt that the opposition group chose to name their Facebook page 'Flinders Ranges Windfarm Free' because of the mental image most people have of the very beautiful parts of the ranges.

You could set up the best telescope that money could buy on top of Saint Mary Peak (the highest in the Flinders Ranges) and you wouldn't be able to see the turbines of the Crystal Brook Energy Park. They'd be over the horizon.

No one has ever proposed building wind farms on the Chase Range, Wilpena Range, Elder Range, Heysen Range or in any other of the most popular parts of the Flinders Ranges.

The photo below shows the locality of the proposed CBEP.




Site of some of the Crystal Brook Energy Park proposed wind turbines
Turbine site
This is a low tourism part of the extreme southern Flinders Ranges. My wife and I occasionally walk on this road (a part of the Heysen Trail), I don't think we've ever seen a tourist there, although the view from the road is good. The presence of turbines, solar farm and batteries will bring more tourists, walkers and cyclists to this section of the Trail.

Can you see any houses? I can't. Beetaloo Valley, where most of the opponents live, is in the distance; no turbine will be within 1.5km of an opponent's house. You can see that there are few, if any, trees that will need to be cut down. Ideal site for a wind farm.
Photo 2017/05/25




What are the advantages of the Crystal Brook Energy Park?
What does the opposition want us to lose?

 
Waterloo Wind Farm
Waterloo WF
These turbines have been struck by lightning many times. If they had not been there, would that lightning have started fires?
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I have divided the advantages into global, national and local aspects.

Global

  • The project will result in two thirds of a million tonnes less carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere each year, slowing climate and ocean acidity damage;
  • All future generations, include my and everyone's children and grandchildren, will gain from less harm to the planet;
  • Many other species, on land and in the seas, will suffer less.
National
  • Reduced air pollution from the burning of coal, including particulate matter, heavy metals, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides;
  • Fewer coal miners will be exposed to 'black lung', coal miners' pneumoconiosis;
  • Australia will be a little closer to achieving its emissions reductions goals.
Local
  • Local community organisations will receive $80,000 per year from Neoen;
  • Land owners will receive substantial leasing fees;
  • Local businesses and contractors will get a lot of business;
  • Five people will get long-term jobs in Crystal Brook;
  • The wind farm part of the project, along a part of the Heysen Trail, and the view from there over the solar farm, will attract walkers and cyclists;
  • This is speculation, but I would think that tall wind turbine lightning conductors that safely conduct electricity to the ground reduce the number of fires started by lightning strikes. Think of it; if we were to put tall lightning conductors on all our hill tops surely it would reduce such fires?
All this will be lost if the objectors get their way, just because a few people don't want to see and occasionally hear wind turbines.

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I cannot believe that this selfish, short-sited behaviour is typical of my fellow human beings. I will go on believing that we are better than this. We must be, if the next generations are to have a world to live on that is anywhere near as wonderful as the one we have been fortunate to enjoy.

I suspect that the majority of the opponents have been influenced by one or a very few rabble-rousers and that they have not thought about the implications and possible consequences of their ill-considered actions.




Ethics and support or opposition to a wind farm

 
Why oppose wind power?
Why not wind power?
Ethics, moral philosophy, is about how we relate to those with whom we share the Earth, human and non-human. If a person has ethical standards he or she will consider the needs of others before making a decision that will affect those others.

As mentioned elsewere in this page and site, a renewable energy installation such as a wind farm or solar farm will reduce the damage caused by climate change; it will reduce the amount of air pollution resulting from the burning of coal; it will therefore be to the advantage of all life on Earth.

The particular wind farm in this case, Crystal Brook Energy Park, will reduce greenhouse emissions by some two-thirds of a million tonnes each year. The operators will donate $80,000 each year to community projects, five people will have full time employment; I could go on about advantages, local, national and global.

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There are very sound ethical reasons to support the project. Against that, the reasons to oppose it are almost entirely selfish.




Reasons, justifications, for objection or support

 
Clements Gap WF
The main opposition group has a Facebook page titled "Flinders Ranges: Windfarm Free". I made a few polite comments on that page in early July 2017 and was quickly blocked.

Over a few days I messaged several people who were obviously opposed to the project inquiring about their reasons for objecting to the Crystal Brook Energy Park. After several inquiries and no responses I continued until I had sent a message to each of eight different people. Finally I got a message in reply on 2017/07/22. The message stated that the reasons for the person's objection were none of my business, that everyone had a right to their own opinion and that I should keep my opinion to myself.

The group that has been objecting to the Energy Park have been very vocal in pushing their opposition onto the people of the Crystal Brook region, but it seems they believe that I am neither entitled to ask for the reasons for that opposition nor to express my own opinion.

If they are opposed to a project that will have all the advantages of this one, surely they should at least be willing to explain the reasons for that opposition?

A flyer that the opponents dropped in letter boxes in Crystal Brook in mid July provided only one reason to stop the project, the size and appearance of the turbines. Is this sufficient to justify blocking a project that comes with so many advantages?




Letter-drops

As mentioned above, in mid-July those opposed to the energy park did a letter-drop around Crystal Brook. The pamphlet had little text, mainly consisting of images aiming to show the size of the turbines. The name of the author was not given.

In the last week of July a friend and I distributed a letter that I had written; reproduced below:
 
Food for thought. Not in the letter-drop.
Turbine and message
As of May 2014

Crystal Brook Energy Park: an exciting and responsible development for our town

I love the natural world the way it is, I'm betting that you do too. Climate change will cause huge damage. I'm over seventy, I will not suffer from the damage, but my grandchildren, and yours, certainly will.

If the proposed Crystal Brook Energy Park is built it will result in a reduction of around six hundred thousand tonnes of greenhouse carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere each year, slowing climate change and reducing the damaging acidification of our oceans. It will include solar power, wind power and a big battery, a great combination.

There has been some opposition from people whose main concern is that they don't want to see nearby wind turbines; surely a sustainable development that is good for the community, the nation and the world is more important than a few people's visual preferences? Think of the Clements Gap turbines; some don't like the way they look, others see them as majestic and a symbol of a more responsible and durable future way of life. A while back I was on a Lions Club barbecue with a lady from Snowtown who told me that the Snowtown Wind Farm was the best thing that ever happened to her town.

Pacific Hydro, the operators of Clements Gap Wind Farm donates $56,000 to community organisations each year; Neoen, the proposers of the Crystal Brook Energy Park have promised another $80,000. Of course there will be many other economic advantages too, including half a dozen full time jobs; no small thing in a town the size of Crystal Brook.

We face a choice between fossil fuels – coal mines, fracking for gas, air pollution that kills millions of people each year world-wide – or clean, green, renewable energy. I know which way I want the world to go, what about you?

I've written more about why I support the Crystal Brook Energy Park – and why all decent people should too – on the Internet at bit.ly/wistlwf.

David Clarke
I had positive responses from more than ten people either during of following the letter-drop. The only negative feedback was an unsigned note in my letter-box.



My background

 
Collecting rubbish on a roadside
On the road
It is usual for opponents of wind farms to try to discredit wind power supporters by ad-hominem attacks. (If desparate people lacking ethical standards cannot counter a person's arguments they resort to attacking the person.) I'll give a bit of information about myself in anticipation of this.

I have no financial connection to wind farm operators (beyond having sold rights to use some of my photos to a few).

I split my time between a house in Crystal Brook and a bit of land at Armagh, near Clare. Sometimes I use one address, sometimes the other.

I care about the my community and the planet. I have done all I can think of doing to try to get action on climate change, including taking part in a 325km walk from Port Augusta to Adelaide in 2012 in support of a solar thermal power station at Port Augusta. In 2014 I joined a small group walking 750km from Melbourne to Canberra to take a petition to the national parliament pressing for action on climate change.

In the late part of last century I spent part of many days killing feral pepper trees on the creek at Bowman Park (at one time the Pirie Council threatened to fine me for every tree I killed in spite of being in favour of the removal of ferral pepper trees in general). Gum trees have taken the place of the dead pepper trees now, much nicer. I've planted thousands of trees on roadsides around Crystal Brook, at Bowman Park and on my own property at Armagh. I've removed all the feral pine trees from a section of the Riesling Trail and the Blyth road and planted natives on the latter.

I've been a blood donor for about 45 years.

Since early 2004 I have been fighting the lies and misinformation spread by those who dishonestly oppose wind power.

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Since 2013 I have been collecting rubbish on roadsides (photo on the right).

Since April 2014 I have spent many hours working at Lions Gleeson Wetlands in Clare.

In mid 2016 I exposed Port Pirie Regional Council's criminal destruction of remnant roadside vegetation at Crystal Brook in contravention of their own development plan.

Most of the people who are objecting to the energy park live in Beetaloo Valley. I certainly care about Beetaloo Valley, in 2014 I wrote a net page about the Beetaloo Dam.

I have been a member of the Waterloo Wind Farm Community Liaison Group since its inception and have learned a lot about wind power from that source. Interestingly, there were some wind power opponents in that group for a short time, but they left. I suspect they just wanted to object, not to learn anything. New members are always welcome.

I have written elsewhere on these pages about my thoughts on a purpose to my life.




Turbine and message

To oppose wind power is to support killer coal



Some related pages on this site...

A letter to my great-grandchildren
Climate change in the Australian context
Climate change in the international context
Climate Walk – a million-step walk to try to get action on climate change
Crystal Brook Energy Park supporters
Ethics and My ethics
Images with messages
Invalid arguments in opposition to wind power
Killer coal
Land values and wind farms
Mid North SA leading Australia in new renewable energy
Northern SA renewable energy projects mid-2017
Ocean acidification
Popularising wind turbines
To oppose wind power is to support killer coal
Why accept climate science?
Why oppose a wind farm?
Why support wind power?
Wind Energy Opposition
Wind power in Australia
Wind power problems
Wind turbines and health
Wind turbine noise
Youth of the Year Speech from a girl who lived three kilometres from turbines
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And off this site...

100% Renewables for SA
Australian Wind Alliance
Australian Youth Climate Coalition
Beyond zero emissions net page and on Facebook
BREAZE – Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions
Citizen's Climate Lobby: Australia
Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network
Crystal Brook Energy Park; Neoen's page on the project
Doctors for the Environment, Australia
Fossil Fuel Free Future
Friends of the Earth
Renew WA
Repower Port Augusta
Save The Planet net page and on Facebook
The Sustainable Hour, Geelong radio
Wind Turbine Syndrome, exposing the anti wind misinformation 'industry'
Yes2Renewables

Index

On this page...

Ethics
Letter-drops
Lightning strike and fires
Misleading
More damage
My background
Some related pages
Valid and invalid objections
What is the opposition asking?
Wind farms in the Flinders Ranges
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