WITH wind farms now a major issue for many farmers, NSW Farmers has produced guide book to help its members.
It was developed in response to calls by farmers, many of whom had been approached to host wind towers on their properties, at a conference in 2011 asking for guidelines regarding wind farm developments.
In the forward to ‘Wind Farm Guide for Host Landholders’, NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson said: “regional NSW is being confronted by land use change as our food and fibre producing lands also begin to play a role in meeting the needs of our energy dependent world.”
“These changes are confronting and must not be embraced without first answering serious questions about how they will impact on our farmers and their local communities…” she said.
“NSW farmers has not been given a direction by its members to either support or oppose wind energy, but we do see ourselves as having an obligation to inform members who are approached to host turbines. It is with that in mind that we commissioned the Wind Farm Guide for host Landholders.”
In response to comments made by Member for Hume Alby Schultz on his website criticising the publication “as an irresponsible act of partisan pro wind turbine propaganda”* Ms Simson said: “The decision to host wind turbines will be one of the most complex and long- term choices many farmers will make for their business.
“Our members highlighted an information gap in terms of the rights and responsibilities of landholders when approached by wind companies and what they should expect when negotiating such a significant contractual arrangement.
“This document is intended as a starting point for landholders who are making that decision.
“While it won’t contain every answer, we hope it will explain what to expect over the life of a project and help landholders to ask the right questions.”
This guide as noted on the cover page, was developed by consultancy company GHD Pty Ltd for the NSW Farmers Association.
Funding for the guide was received from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).
Ms Simson said the consulting firm GHD was specifically chosen for its experience in both wind development and agricultural consulting – the idea being that it would have the necessary expertise to write the document.
“Attacks on the credibility of individual GHD employees are petty and an unwelcomed distraction from the real issues,” Ms Simson said.
“As part of NSW Farmers pushing for a stricter planning regime for wind farms we have argued for strict noise and visual impact criteria (including mandated setback from houses) and for the Rural Fire Service (RFS) to be involved before the project is designed and as part of the state significant development assessment process.
“Unfortunately, the government is dragging its feet on finalising those reforms do we could not put that level of detail in the guide.”
Ms Simson urged farmers who want to see a different stance on this issue to make their voice heard through NSW Farmers.
The book explains what makes a property suitable for consideration as a site.
It highlights the potential impacts both positive and negative of wind farms.
These include impacts on farming activities, land use during and after development.
Aerial agricultural impacts, fire management, impact on amenity and visually are all mentioned in the booklet along with health impacts, dust, noise, shadow flicker and social and community issues too.
The booklet also suggests other sources of reference that farmers might like to reference.