The Yass Valley is set to become the centre of a wind energy district, with hundreds of turbines planned for the area.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) held a meeting at the Soldiers Club on Thursday for prospective wind turbine hosts.
It was their neighbours who stood outside the club boasting placards that read ‘No wind turbines’ and ‘Wind farms belong in the desert’.
Mark Squires from the OEH said more than 90 people attended the meeting from all over southern NSW.
“It was their event,” the acting state coordinator of renewable energy precincts at the OEH said. “It was specifically to discuss issues for hosts of wind farms.”
Residents from around Yass were angry they hadn’t been informed of the meeting.
“There’s a very strong, growing community backlash against these turbines,” Bookham farmer and protest organiser, Mark Glover, said.
He said people not hosting turbines found out about the meeting two days ago.
“They could’ve invited us to the meeting as well,” he said.
“We’ve had a very big turn out for two days notice, on a weekday, in the rain,” Mr Glover said.
Mr Squires said the OEH had held dozens of wind farm events for different people and would be happy to put on another for people seeking more information.
“We work very closely with the landholders, we also have ongoing conversations with the wind and renewable industry and people who have concerns,” Mr Squires said.
Mr Glover said the government was ignoring the concerns of the people that helped put them in power.
“The government is promoting these [wind farms] at the expense of the community,” he said.
The OEH said its role was to make information available to the community.
“The government’s committed to a 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020,” Mr Squires said.
Yass resident Shane O’Neil said the community wasn’t aware it would be surrounded by turbines.
“Do people in Yass realise just how close they’re going to be?” Mr O’Neil asked.
Charlie Prell, who organised the landholders meeting, said there was a small, vocal minority who weren’t entitled to disrupt enquiries by potential hosts.
“The decision to only allow invited guests into the forum was justified by the behaviour of the anti-wind farm minority who gathered outside the club,” Mr Prell said.
“Negotiating a contract to host wind turbines is often a long and complicated process.”
He said understanding those issues was critical to successfully installing a wind farm on your land.
Wind farms and bushfires – see Friday’s Tribune.