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Monaro Wind Farms Issues


Issues concerning the proposed windfarm developments for the Monaro.


Technical aspects:

*         Windfarms are inefficient and their output is random and variable. They produce power only when the wind blows. Typically, they produce at their capacity for only 30% to 35% of the time due to the irregular nature of wind.

*         Windfarms do not displace green house gases because their random and variable output requires alternative electricity sources to be on hand at all times. Conventional power stations (including nuclear) cannot be turned on and off to match the random and variable nature of the wind. Therefore, because electricity cannot be stored, there has to be sufficient capacity in any electricity supply system to provide enough power irrespective of what the wind is doing. This requires conventional power stations to run at full, or nearly full, capacity even when the wind is blowing as there is no telling when the wind might stop, or start.

*         If there are enough wind generators spread over a wide geographic area the reliability of wind as a power source increases. However due to technical limitations no more than 10% of electricity can be sourced from the wind and back up power to the order of 80% of wind generating capacity still needs to be maintained. Wind can therefore only provide a miniscule amount of "green" electricity to the national grid.


Environmental Aspects

*         Wind turbines are very large machines. A typical windtower is 100 metres high with rotors approaching 100m metres in diameter. Around 600 tonnes of concrete is required in the ground to support each tower.

*         Wind stations are highly visible as they have to be placed in locations where they can capture the most amount of wind e.g. on hill tops and other exposed positions.

*         Each tower in a wind station has to be placed 150 metres from another to maximise the amount of wind reaching each tower. This means that windfarms cannot be concentrated in a relatively small locality.

*         Considerable infrastructure goes along with each wind station to enable the erection of the towers and provide access for ongoing service. Additional structures including power lines, substations etc are required to connect the power generated into the grid.

*         They pose a significant hazard to bird life.


Economic Aspects

*         Wind stations require government subsidies to be viable. The cost of producing power through the wind is expensive.


Political Aspects

*         The Snowy River Shire Council has approved the Snowy Plains Wind Station in spite of the recommendation of its planning committee and the Snowy River Local Environmental Plan (SRLEP) which includes the following clauses:


SRLEP General Provisions

2)What are the aims of this plan?

f) ensure that development in rural areas has minimum detrimental impact on the visual qualities of the rural landscape and discourage buildings protruding above the skyline in rural areas.


8. Zone 1 (a) General Rural

(1)   What are the objectives of the zone?

(b)    to prevent development that could have an adverse impact on the rural character and scenic attributes of the area


19. Zone 7 - Environmental Protection

What are the objectives of the zone?

1.      (a) to protect the scenic values of the region


Part 3 Special Provisions - Division 1, Special requirements for specific types of developments

21. What must council take into account when considering a development application in rural and environmental protection zones?

(g) whether the development will contribute to ribbon development or to changing the appearance or character of the area.