Study challenges wind farm 'refugee' figures

A NEW study into wind farm “refugees” has refuted anti-wind campaigners’ claims that “more than 40 families” have been forced to abandon their homes due to turbine noise.

The study examined claims of home abandonment around the Macarthur and Cape Bridgewater wind farms, but found “no house appears to have been permanently ‘abandoned’ without sale, as the expression implies”.

Professor Simon Chapman’s report, which has been submitted for peer review, used parliamentary submissions, media reports, an anti-wind farm website, wind industry sources, correspondence with known anti-wind farm activists and politicians to attempt to find evidence of home abandonments.

His findings include that only 12 Australian homes have been either permanently or periodically left empty, including two near Macarthur and two near Cape Bridgewater.

However, further research into the 12 homes found there was more to them than initially claimed by anti-wind campaigners, Professor Chapman wrote. 

“These 12 cases need contextualizing against considerations that several of those involved were either dedicated activists against wind farms from times sometimes pre-dating their construction, were engaged in protracted negotiations for home purchase with wind companies, had pre-existing health problems, grievances with the wind company over employment or had left the area for unrelated reasons of employment elsewhere,” the study found.

“Nine appear to be examples of their owners deciding to move out of the house completely or for extended periods, but retaining ownership. In two cases, the owners return to their properties for work during the day, but reside elsewhere.” 

The study reported “claims have been made of other ‘refugees’ in the Macarthur wind farm area, however attempts to corroborate these claims were unsuccessful”. 

“It might be argued that despite my being unable to find evidence for any more than 12 families around Australia making claims to have abandoned their houses, that many more exist and have not made any public complaints or sought or attracted any publicity to their claims,” Professor Chapman wrote. 

“However, if more families (‘more than 40’) had abandoned their homes it is reasonable to expect that many would not seek anonymity, but quite the opposite. 

“Publicity to the injustice of having to leave a home without selling it, or being penalised for breaking a lease could focus news and political attention and perhaps trigger compensation. 

“None of the anti-wind farm activists contacted provided any information about abandoned homes when given the opportunity to do so. 

“If more such cases exist, these would provide important publicity in aid of their cause.”

mneal@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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