Why is one wind farm built with very little local opposition, while another,
not far away, seems to have heavy opposition?
What follows is speculation, but is based on observations made during the
proposal and construction of a number of wind farms in Australia.
Wattle Point Wind
Farm was completed in 2005 with very little opposition.
Snowtown Wind Farm
was completed in 2008, and was
2013/14, both stages had very little opposition.
Sixty kilometres north of Wattle Point WF and eighty kilometres south of
this wind farm, proposed in
2012, has had a considerable amount of opposition.
Why is this case so different to Wattle Point and Snowtown?
Several factors are relevant here:
- Wind farm opposition has become more organised and vocal over the period
from 2008 to 2012.
- Land use
- The Ceres Project is to be built on land that is more productive
agriculturally than the other two wind farms.
- One or more of those involved with the
anti-Ceres campaign were offered
wind turbines but rejected the offer because they wanted more money than was
- A few determined people
- There are two or three very active, determined and dishonest
people who are the prime movers of the opposition to the Ceres Project.
Over the last ten years there has been time for many opponents of wind farms
to spread a number of fallacies that have become a sort of a folklore on
the Internet and among wind farm opposition groups.
For example, there is absolutely no valid reason to claim that a modern
utility-scale wind turbine is
inefficient, yet it is one of the
most frequent claims made by detractors.
Maurice Newman, the man who
heads Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Advisory Council managed to
squeeze nine similar common fallacies into one sentence.
It seems that some people, when they hear that a wind farm is to be built
nearby, look at the 'information' available on the Internet (and perhaps in
the popular press and elsewhere), find fallacies that show wind power in a
negative light, and repeat them without looking into their veracity.
Ten years ago such misinformation was not available, so an opponent would,
first, have not developed such a strong negative impression and, second, would
not have had a library of fallacies to repeat.
It should be said that this is in reality largely irrelevant –
the wind farm will only very slightly affect agricultural yields and the
area available to agriculture – but it has had a big emotional impact
due to the very effective misinformation campaign.
The US experience shows that agriculture and wind power are highly compatible.
One or more of those involved in the anti-Ceres campaign could have had
several wind turbines on their land, earning around $15 000 per year
just by being there, but they rejected the offer hoping for even more
It is not hard to imagine how they felt when they missed out alltogether
but found that their neighbours would be getting turbines.
If anything like this happened at Snowtown or Wattle Point I have not heard
A few determined people
These two or three people have been willing to finance and organise a
campaign which involved things like public meetings, setting up an
Internet site, a full page
advertisement in the local paper and paying a firm of lawyers to write
threatening letters to the land holders who are expecting to host the
People tend to be easily mislead into nonsensical beliefs.
Several recent unsubstantiated, but common, beliefs have been:
- Vaccinations do more harm than good;
- Mobile phone towers and electro-magnetic radiation from power lines can
give you cancer;
- Wind turbines can make you sick;
- Recently, smart meters can make you sick (also see