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Senator John Madigan hears Waubra's call

20131126_MadiganMtg_1_sml.jpgThe fight to get back Waubra's name moved into the offices of local politicians when a group of Waubra community leaders met with Senator John Madigan in Ballarat to ask him to back their call.

Ken, Kerryn, Doug, Margaret (L-R) and Karen (not pictured) told the Senator about the passion they felt for their local community, the positive presence of the wind farm in their community and the harm that was being done by the foundation who've usurped their name.

Given the Senator's reputation for pursuing wind farms, this was a brave performance indeed from the group.

They were given a good hearing by Madigan and succeeded in convincing him to write to the foundation's directors and pass on their concerns.

Let's hope it counts for something and that the foundation acknowledges that the decent thing to do is to leave this town alone to carry on with their lives.

Our media release is below.

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All for jobs in Portland

portland_info_night_170913_speaker_stuart_batten_KP.jpgPortland-region VicWind supporters and members rallied to boost the morale of the local wind sector at a meeting in the town on Tuesday.

Twenty small businesspeople, wind workers, renewable energy advocates, environmentalists and trainers and four Glenelg Shire Councillors came together to discuss how they can be stronger advocates for the wind energy industry.

Portland manufacturing

Stuart Batten spoke about his job heading up the wind tower construction division of Keppel Prince Engineering, one of only two wind tower builders in Australia.

The company recently secured a deal to build towers for the Taralga wind farm in New South Wales, and it will be bidding hard to win work on the final stage of the Portland Wind Energy Project that was announced last week.

Stuart described the specialised skills many of his workers needed to do their jobs, and said it was hard to keep these skilled workers in town during the frequent down-times the industry had faced in recent years.

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VicWind members get the lowdown on health and planning

Monday 12th August

Graeme_Neville_crop.jpgAround 25 VicWind members gathered in Ballarat to hear the latest research on wind farm planning and health issues from experts in the field. Farmers from wind districts around Ballarat, wind workers and other local wind supporters got to meet and swap notes.

With public meetings about wind farms too often an angry exchange of fear and misinformation, it’s difficult for wind supporters to meet and enjoy a constructive discussion about how wind farms work for the bush and how they can fit more easily into rural communities.

We're certainly keen to provide our members with more opportunities to do this.

Wind Farms and Health

The first speaker up was Dr Susie Burke, a senior researcher at the Australian Psychological Society, who was able to give a comprehensive overview of the scientific literature on whether wind farms cause health effects.

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20 year wind career in the balance

DarylOFlaherty.jpgFew people have been involved with the construction of Australian wind farms as long as Daryl O’Flaherty.

Daryl’s an oversized pilot, by which I don’t mean he’s spent too long flying planes and drinking beer. Rather, he drives the car with the flashing lights in front of the trucks that carry the enormous components that wind farms require – 40m long blades and enormous wind tower sections.

Daryl’s the one responsible for ensuring that the valuable load arrives at its destination in one, undisturbed piece. And once that load is safely delivered, it’s several hundred kilometres’ driving back to the dock to do it again. And again. Transporting blades, towers, transformers and nacelles from the Port of Portland to the Waubra Wind Farm involved over 1,000 500km round trips.

And the work has its particular challenges.

“The size of the components is a challenge to do it safely. Just one mark will put a blade out of balance and you waste tens of thousands of dollars. You’ve got to be careful.”

Based in Hamilton, Daryl began working with wind farm components in the 1990’s, eventually  carting blades to the Port of Portland for export. Now, after 20 years working in wind farm construction, Daryl says “wind energy’s my passion”.

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A job worth keeping

Jason_Grub_Bannam_for_document.jpgJASON “Grub” Bannam loves his job. Working as a welder on massive wind towers has taught the former postie many things, and he enjoys the camaraderie of his workplace, too.

But he worries that his job may go the way that others at his company have, with uncertainty in the wind energy market and cheaper imports stopping companies from buying the towers that his company, Keppel Prince Engineering, (KPE) produces.

KPE in Portland, far south-west Victoria, used to employ 120 people directly in its with tower division, but that workforce is now down to 65 because work has dried up.

The company is currently building the massive white towers for a wind farm in New South Wales, but production supervisor Stuart Batten says there is only three months’ worth of work left in that, and unless there are new contracts coming up the company will probably have to lay off more workers.

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Vic Health gives wind farms a clean bill of health

DOH_Report.pngA new Victorian Department of Health review gives wind farms the tick of approval when it comes to public health. 

The Department of Health review investigated the potential for infrasound to adversely affect human health. The review supports the findings of existing studies, yet peer-reviewed evidence dismissing such concerns hasn't stopped anti-wind farm campaigners who frequently claim inaudible sound from wind turbines causes wide array of health problems. 

The latest review concludes "there is no evidence that sound which is at inaudible levels can have a physiological effect on the human body."

As it turns out, infrasound is not something new to human experience. "[T]here are many sources of infrasound in the environment and it is even produced by the human body, at much greater levels than infrasound from external sources such as wind farms," the review notes. "Humans have been exposed to high levels of infrasound throughout our evolution, with no apparent effects."  

Given the prominence of the infrasound argument in the wind energy debate, the review has gained a substantial amount of media coverage. 

"[The review] shows a lot of the claims made that wind farms damage peoples health are not accurate," VicWind coordinator Andrew Bray told The Courier

Leigh Ewbank of VicWind member organisation Friends of the Earth supported this view in comment made the The Weekly TimesEwbank asks "How many studies will it take before anti-wind farm campaigners stop spreading fear about this clean, renewable energy source?" 

For more coverage of the Department of Health review, see: 

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