I will assume that the reader accepts the reality of anthropogenic climate change, ocean acidification and sea level rise 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?
Of course there are many other threats to our shared environment. I have written other pages on the environment, in the international context and the Australian context.
|Wind turbines south of Crystal Brook|
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.
Background to the energy park projectA 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.
How and why I became actively involved: dishonest or ill-informed opposition to the projectThe 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 the killer coal industry.
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.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 26 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 330 and 1300ha (3.3 and 13 square kilometres). I have written on the need for research into this matter on another page on this site.
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.
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
The map on the right shows the layout of the proposed energy park as of mid 2018. The Port Pirie-Laura road runs from the upper left corner via Hughs Gap to above centre on the right side. The proposed turbine locations as on mid 2018 are shown as blue-green triangles. Hughs gap is on the upper section of where the wind turbines are to be built.
Neoen originally proposed that some of the Crystal Brook Energy Park wind turbines would be in the area north-west of Hughs Gap (the photo above is of this area); due to objections from Pirie Regional Council turbines are no longer to be built north of Hughs Gap.
The area north of Hughs Gap is a low tourism part of the extreme southern Flinders Ranges with few trees and has been cropped and/or grazed for many years.
My wife and I occasionally walk on the road shown on the upper photo, which is on the dashed line in the upper part of the image on the right (it is 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.
It is difficult to see why the Port Pirie Council opposed the building of turbines in the northern section but allowed it in the southern section.
I have divided the advantages of the project into global, national and local aspects.
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.
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.
In October 2018 some of the opposition went to the length of hiring the services of a person calling himself Dr Noise (Steven Cooper) to make absurd statements about wind turbine noise at a hearing on the proposed energy park.
Later in October
Connie Bonaros; an SA member of the SA Legislative Council dishonestly and irresponsibly misrepresented a World Health Organisation report in a way aiming at harming the proposed energy park.
I suspect that Ms Bonaros would have been encouraged by the local wind farm opponents.
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 provide sufficient and convincing 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. At other times people have complained that they didn't want to hear turbines and that they were concerned about the impact on their land values. In fact there is very little evidence that wind farms do adversely impact land values and strong evidence that they do not, and wind turbines are not noisy. A few other reasons have been given at times, all easily shown to be unsupported by the facts.
My impression is that those opposed to the energy park don't want to see or hear wind turbines and some of them may be mistakenly concerned about land values. All the other reasons were fabricated in an attempt to support the general opposition; the opposition came first, the justification was made up in support of the opposition.
These reasons are not sufficient to justify blocking a project that comes with so many advantages. I have observed that while opposition to coal mining is usually honest and well justified, opposition to wind farms is often dishonest and usually unjustified.
In the last week of July a friend and I distributed a letter that I had written; reproduced below:
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.
The author of this page, David Clarke, was not aware of the poll until the day before the writing of this section, 2018/07/25. I believed the poll to be important and revealing but I was unwilling to publish anything about it until I was able to confirm its existence and results on the following day.
On 2017/07/26 the poll results were available on a Flinders News online page titled Largest solar and wind powered hydrogen plant to be built at Crystal Brook. To see the result you will need to click on 'view results' on that page.
Of course the poll was not proof of anything, but it was the only poll of public opinion on the Energy Park.
It is perplexing that in spite of the overwhelming local support suggested by the poll and the valuable development that the Crystal Brook Energy Park would constitute, the Port Pirie Regional Council voted to oppose the project.
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.
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 an area where the CBEP was to have turbines, but will no longer because of objections from the Pirie Regional Council. Instead, the turbines are to be further south.
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 or plasma donor for about 45 years.
Since early 2004 I have been fighting the lies and misinformation spread by those who dishonestly oppose wind power.
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.
To oppose wind power is to support killer coal
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
Connie Bonaros; an SA MLC who dishonstly misrepresented a WHO report in order to oppose wind power
Crystal Brook Energy Park supporters
Dishonesty, unethical behaviour from the opponents
Dr Noise, aka Steven Cooper, has made absurd statements about wind turbine noise
Ethics and My ethics
Images with messages
Invalid arguments in opposition to wind power
Land values and wind farms
Mid North SA leading Australia in new renewable energy
Northern SA renewable energy projects
Opposition to wind power and to coal
Popularising wind turbines
Selfishness or altruism?
South Australia's great success with renewable energy
To oppose wind power is to support killer coal
A Tale of Two Cities
Why accept climate science?
Why oppose a wind farm?
Why support wind power?
Wind Energy Opposition
Wind power in Australia
Wind Power Cost
Wind power problems
Wind turbines and health
Wind turbine noise
Youth of the Year Speech from a girl who lived three kilometres from turbines
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
Report of IRENA; the International Renewable Energy Agency, 2017
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'