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Wind Farms: The Great Divide


Wind farms have a universal and well documented capacity to divide rural communities. Typically, the division is between those who support them because of direct financial benefit to themselves or entrenched "green" ideals and those who would not derive any direct financial benefit and oppose them because of negative community impacts like visual detriment, property devaluation etc.

Unfortunately, this community division is not confined to initial debates over wind farm proposals. It persists for many years after wind farms have become operational.

I have listened to harrowing stories from people from South Gippsland, where wind farms have been in operation for up to ten years. They say that deep division and bitterness among community members is still quite strong and raw. In those towns, former friends do not talk to each other and some businesses are shunned by those with opposing views. This would be catastrophic in communities like the one we have in Eden where there is heavy reliance on volunteer groups and public involvement in community vactivities. A divided community is a dysfunctional community. It is hard to organise groups when the members are split on a contentious issue.

The message from these people is that wind farms can be a very emotive issue and that the community divisions in many places with operating wind farms are far greater and cause far more anguish than anyone would have thought possible.

My question to the local community is: "would the miniscule energy output from the very small wind farm proposed for Eden justify levels of ongoing social disruption like those described by community leaders in South Gippsland towns with wind farms?


Peter Barber