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Senators head to Portland to discuss wind turbine ideas

PORTLAND has been selected as one of the first venues for hearings by a Senate select committee on wind turbines for a report to be handed down in June.
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So far almost 40 submissions from across Australia, including south-west Victoria, have been lodged before the March 23 closing date.

The committee, chaired by Senator John Madigan of Ballarat, is looking into regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines. Members will sit in Portland on March 30. A venue and time are yet to be confirmed.

The senator has long campaigned for better regulatory controls.

One of the early submissions is from the Country Fire Authority which calls for response plans involving personnel trained for rescues at heights.

“To safely perform a rescue from height at a wind turbine the CFA would require a minimum of 10 personnel on scene,” the submission said.

“CFA needs to liaise with each wind farm to establish a relationship where all of the stakeholders are aware of each other’s expectations should an incident occur.

“Boundaries need to be clearly established to ensure early notification when an incident occurs and that on-site workers don’t make the situation worse by trying to effect a rescue. As the numbers of wind farms increase so will the amount of people working at height, increasing the potential risk of an accident.”

The CFA submission says there are no standard operating procedures (SOP) in districts 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 which cover the Barwon/South-West.

This caused problems for response to a rescue at the Macarthur wind farm when Hamilton brigade was the only unit paged to attend.

“With the amount of wind farms operating and the additional one under construction an SOP needs to be formulated and implemented ASAP,” the submission says.

CFA emergency management guidelines state that turbines be located about 300 metres apart to provide adequate distance for aircraft to operate and clearing of vegetation within 30 metres of a turbine was recommended.

Keith Staff, of Penshurst, sent a submission headed: “The industrial wind power scam is a catastrophe on every level”.

He attacks governments, companies, consultants, the media and councils.

“Shire councils’ first priority should be for the health and well-being of their residents and ratepayers,” Mr Staff wrote.

The Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia called for a national database of tower locations for low-level aviators.

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