Green Groups or Industry Advocates?
Friends of the Earth and the Strzelecki Sustainable Futures group have been vocal backers of the Delburn Wind Farm proposal. Their support is a good example of noble cause corruption. Sacri
fice is justifiable for the ‘greater good’, especially when others are asked to do the sacrificing.
These groups do not see differences in the scale or location of wind farms. All wind energy is good wind energy. They do not even wait to be informed by the analysis of noise, fire and ecological impacts before taking a stance.
The position these groups have taken is naïve. Their green credentials have been compromised and they are being exploited. Instead of being industry watchdogs, they are industry advocates. The lessons learned about industry putting profit over people and the environment have been lost.
Friends of the Earth and Environment Victoria joined with wind energy companies, including OSMI, in calling for the Victorian government to ‘stick to the science’ in setting emissions reduction targets. Ironically, there are no scientific assessments of emissions from Victoria’s wind farms, just a lot of money to be made from the sale of certificates to electricity retailers.
Bad science is even worse than no science. It is misleading. OSMI submitted its ‘final’ ecological report on Matters of National Significance in its EPBC referral in January. Field surveys were not completed until February. Many risk factors, including fauna collisions with vehicles during the 152,500 construction trips or with turbines, were not discussed. There was no mention of the endangered status of the native vegetation slated for removal, even that associated with the Strzelecki gum.
The fire risk assessment commissioned by OSMI was a disgrace. The ignition sites for the 2009 Delburn fires were modelled but not the same weather conditions. As a result, the fires that swept into Boolarra and burned down forty-four houses were ignored. Aircraft was shown flying around smaller turbines fighting grass fires where visibility was high. The risks to aircraft from larger turbines and reduced visibility due to higher smoke volumes from forest fires were completely overlooked.
Bad science is common in the wind energy industry. Bird mortality has been underestimated by a factor of at least ten (Willis, C.R.K, et al. 2009). Regulators chose to monitor only audible (A-weighted) sound when studies such as those sponsored by NASA and the US Department of Energy discovered infrasound was a significant problem. Manufacturers refuse to release an unweighted sound profile of their turbines.
So I ask these advocates of the Delburn Wind Farm exactly how many eagles, owls, cockatoos, frogs and koalas is it acceptable to sacrifice for the sake of the environment? How many large trees and hectares of remnant native vegetation is it OK to clear? How can you mitigate environmental impacts if you are not even prepared to acknowledge them? How can you say you are ‘green’?
Ill-considered action by these groups casts a shadow on all those who raise legitimate environmental concerns. The voices of those seeking transparency and accountability are diminished.