LIFE near turbines is hell, according to a panel of south-west property owners who have battled against wind farms for the best part of a decade.
Several wind farm opponents expressed their anguish and frustration with energy companies to the Select Committee on Turbines which was instigated by crossbench senators six months ago to examine the renewable energy source.
The panel held its first hearing in Portland this week and senators met with farmers and other property owners concerned about the health impacts of living near wind turbines.
Glenthompson residents Bill and Sandy Rogerson addressed the committee about their concerns regarding their personal health and the well-being of their livestock.
“There is a real need for all wind turbines to be shut down at night across Australia,” Mr Rogerson told the senate panel. “Within months of the wind turbines operating near our farm, we both experienced health problems.
“The number of deformed lambs increased over the period of the wind farm operating near our property. The lambing rate in our merino stock decreased to a rate of 37 per cent from 85 per cent prior to the wind farms being established.”
Macarthur artist Jan Hetherington told the panel she had suffered a range of ailments due to a nearby wind farm, resulting in a loss of income.
“The Victorian Planning Department and the Victorian Health Department have failed us,” she said.
“There needs to be proper research (into the impact of turbines) and this research needs to be conducted in the field, not behind some desk in downtown Melbourne.”
Derrinallum farmer Hamish Cumming addressed the senate panel about his research regarding the impact of wind turbines on native birdlife.
He said the level of community disenchantment with wind farms was understated.
“There was a survey a few months ago in a NSW newspaper and another at the same time in a northern Victorian newspaper and they both found that roughly 80 per cent of those who responded were against wind farms in their area,” Mr Cumming said.
“The wind farm companies put this message out there that everything is rosy in the south-west, that the majority of farmers support wind farms when they know that is not the case.”
Retired station manager John Pollard, his wife Robyn, Macarthur farmer Annie Gardner and Southern Grampians Landscape Guardians president Keith Staff also appeared before the select committee.