Turbines an ill wind for Craig

Kate MatthewsCountryman

A Broomehill grain grower fears his crops won’t be able to be sprayed from the air during wet years if a proposed wind farm goes ahead.

Proponents Moonies Hill want to construct 74 wind turbines that are 140 metres high on five properties in the shires of Kojonup and Broomehill Tambellup with the electricity feeding back into the local grid.

If the project goes ahead, it will contribute an estimated $130 million to the local economy.

The environmental impact report published last week is being considered by the Shire of Kojonup before a planning decision is made.

Craig Dennis believes the report doesn’t answer community concerns including health issues and will be to the detriment of prime agricultural production land.

He says the turbines, to neighbour his farm Palomar, will inhibit his ability to apply urea, fertiliser, insecticide and fungicide using aerial contract sprayers in wet years and will impede and prohibit his livelihood and farming operation.

His plans for an airstrip on the farm may also be impacted.

Mr Dennis was originally keen to host a number of turbines but reconsidered after researching the topic and visiting a family farm in South Australia with turbines.

“I am not against wind farms but I am against sacrificing prime farm land for a wind farm that is in the wrong location, ” he said.

Taurus Aviation aerial contractor Scott Powell, who sprays Mr Dennis’ farm, said wind farms and wind monitoring towers were dangerous and created turbulence.

As a member of the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia (AAAA), Mr Powell supports its policy position opposing wind farm developments in agricultural areas or where there was elevated bushfire risk. Spraying four out of five years in the area, Mr Powell said helicopters, as an option, were twice as expensive and not suited to broadacre spraying.

He was involved the consultation process for the Moonies Hill report and said his comments were taken out of context and there needed to be compensation to aerial contractors and to farmers if they could not access areas.

In the environmental report, which includes a 24-page airspace assessment, Moonies Hill states the wind farm will have a negligible effect on civil aircraft operations and no objections from the aero industry were identified.

The airspace assessment involved liaison with a number of groups including Air Services Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, AAAA, aerial contractors, local aerodrome operators and private plane and airstrip owners.

The report says landholders hosting turbines may no longer be accessible by fixed wing aircraft but all pilots agreed it would be possible to access the majority of neighbouring paddocks with fixed wing aircraft.

“In some areas however, the fixed wing aircraft may operate in a less efficient manner as the approach may be from the non-preferred direction or incur extra turns, ” the report said.

It said helicopters could be used within the wind farm depending on weather conditions.

The risk of airborne collision with turbines was found to be minimal and there would be no impact of navigational aids, radio communications or radar and satellite.

Moonies Hill was contacted for comment.

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