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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wind Farm Threatens Wool Producers

Gus and Annie Gardner

Gus and Annie Gardner live on a property near Penshurst in Victoria and its taken them thirty years to build up a flock of 2900 merinos able to produce some of the world's finest wool. This week in Sydney they will be recognised by fashion icon Ermenegildo Zegna with a second prize trophy for producing Australia and New Zealand's finest and most valuable wool.

But now their business in threatened by the proposed plan by AGL Energy and Meridian Energy to develop Australia's largest wind farm at Macarthur. It will have 140m high wind turbines within 1.75 kms of their homestead and 100 metres from their sheep.

Mrs Gardner said the sheep have a sensitive nervous sytem "These sheep are supposed to have a controlled environment because if they get stressed, the wool breaks..... it's not going to be a little disturbance, it's going to be a big one" she said. It seems that any stress on a sheep can affect the wool's tensile strength which in turn, affects the price.

AGL are well aware of the Gardner's concerns because they have kept bombarding them with their complaints and objections. An AGL spokeman said "A wind farm and an ultra-fine wool enterprise already exist in close proximity at Challicum Hills with no ill effect" he said. "We believe the Gardner's enterprise and wind turbines on neighbouring properties can comfortably co-exist".

It seems there's a lot of work that needs to be done with the alternative energy source. It's wrong for big companies to push ahead with these plans without first consulting all the affected neighbours. Okay, it sounds a bit bizarre that care must be taken not to upset the nervous system of a sheep in case it affects the quality of the wool but it's already proved that low frequency noise adversely affects the health of humans, so why not sheep?

But it's easy to see why many farmers are giving companies the go-ahead, property owners are being offered $7,000 per annum per turbine so 15 gives you $105,000 a year for doing nothing. But we've got such a big country, why do we have to put these monsters next to farming and agricultural endeavours, why not put them out in the middle of nowhere, the kangaroos won't complain.