An ill wind

May 27, 2013 by Sarah Dingle in Radio National

In less than a fortnight, the small community of King Island will vote on whether a crucial part of Australia’s clean energy future should proceed to the next stage. But the islanders are sharply divided, after claims by health promotion company the Waubra Foundation, and their controversial CEO Dr Sarah Laurie, that the noise wind turbines make harms human health. Sarah Dingle investigates.

On tiny King Island, you’re never far from the sea.

Its location in the Bass Strait means the island’s right in the middle of the Roaring Forties, and experiences wind speeds of about eight metres a second.

‘Anything over 10 [metres a second] becomes challenging, anything under 8 becomes challenging,’ says David Mounter, the wind asset development manager with Hydro Tasmania. ‘It’s probably the best wind resource in Australia.’

State-government owned Hydro Tasmania is Australia’s biggest renewable energy generator. It wants to build 200 wind towers on King Island, 150 metres high at the blade tip. Hydro Tasmania says this $2 billion project alone could generate more than a quarter of the nation’s target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020.

Mr Mounter says the turbines would be spaced across one fifth of King Island. ‘Some of the images we’ve produced so far look into [parts of] the island where you won’t see any turbines,’ he says. ‘And in other places out of the 200 you could see as many as 150. The island is flat but it’s also got sand dunes and a lot of trees, so there are going to be places where you won’t see many at all.’

This article represents part of a larger investigation into ‘wind turbine syndrome’ and King Island by reporter Sarah Dingle. You can listen to the full story on Background Briefing 8.05am, Sunday May 26.

 

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