Shellharbour City Council last week passed a motion to oppose commercial wind farms in the region, but some councillors say it’s a pointless position.
Councillor Peter Moran, who supports wind turbines, said the motion passed last week does practically nothing, because the council is still required by state and local regulations to consider applications for wind farms, on a case-by-case basis.
“I find it a bit of a joke really,” he said. “We’ve actually taken a stand that means nothing. It makes [the councillors] feel good, though.”
He said the more self-sustained Shellharbour can be, in terms of its power needs, the better off the area will be into the future.
Councillor Kellie Marsh passed the motion with her casting vote as Mayor, and is strongly opposed to commercial wind farms.
Cr Marsh said wind power isn’t the answer to a clean energy future and that she would like to see the use of solar energy extended to every government building in the state.
She has many concerns about wind turbines, ranging from the impact upon wildlife to the aesthetic of the area.
“We have spent millions of dollars on our wetlands to bring native bird species back to area,” she said. “The reality is, if we had commercial wind farms, a huge number of these birds, some of which are threatened species, would be sliced and diced and beheaded.”
Among her concerns, Cr Marsh is worried there could be significant health risks to the local community.
“I’ve spoken to a number of people across the globe who are actually affected by ‘wind turbine syndrome’,” she said.
“The effects felt – psychologically, emotionally and physically are absolutely horrendous and I don’t want that in my city, quite frankly.”
But Cr Moran said Cr Marsh’s fears aren’t legitimate. “I’m not aware of any scientific evidence that says there is such a thing as ‘wind turbine syndrome’,” he said.
“It’s always valid to look at all the possibilities, but in this case I don’t think it’s well-founded.”
Cr Moran also recently criticised Cr Marsh for supporting the original plan for the new Shellharbour Stocklands, which features three wind turbines, despite her opposition to all other wind farms in the region.
Words: Ben Neutze
Video: Aidan Simmons
Pictures: Amanda Pappas