Rumours Of Wind Farm Unpopularity May Be Grossly Exaggerated

Wind farms in Australia can tend to suffer a bit of an image problem – but it increasingly seems much of that comes from mainstream media’s focus on a minority’s concerns.
   
Wind turbines in Europe dot the landscape and hardly raise an eyebrow; but try establishing a wind farm in Australia on already cleared land and it can be akin to announcing an intention to construct a Chernobyl nuclear power plant clone in Sydney’s CBD or another Hazelwood brown coal-fired power station in the Daintree Rainforest – or so it would seem.
     
The reasons for opposition are many and varied – some have a legitimate basis; others are at best grasping at straws. A more accurate measure of a wind farm’s impact is to ask the people living near them about their views – and more than just a handful.
     
A recent survey carried out by an independent research firm QDOS for Infigen Energy found the majority of residents living near Capital Wind Farm in Bungendore believe the wind power installation was either “good” or “very good” for local businesses, with only 1 percent indicating they thought it had a negative effect on business.
    
52% said the power station had either a good or very good impact on the local community overall and only 5% said it had a “bad” or “very bad” impact.
    
The facility appears to have had no impact on real estate property values either. While the two real estate agents interviewed said fear of the unknown among property owners had seen some selling prior to construction, no real effect had been noticed since.
    
When asked “Would you support or oppose similar wind farm developments in the local area in the future?”,  68% of respondents expressed support with just 15% stating they would oppose it. Reasons for opposition were not detailed in the survey report. 13% had no particular view and 4% were unsure.
    
The survey was carried out between April 23rd to 30th, 2012 with 200 residents and 34 local business operators. 67% of residents who participated in the survey had lived in the area for over 6 years.
    
The results of the survey follow on from a CSIRO study earlier this year that suggested support for the development of wind farms is stronger than may be assumed from media coverage.
     
Capital Wind Farm commenced operations in 2009. The facility, which generates enough power to supply 60,000 homes, consists of 67 Suzlon S88 2.1MW wind turbines for a total installed capacity of 140.7MW. While the wind farm covers 35 square kilometres; the turbines only occupy a total of 1 hectare.