A quick response to criticisms directed at Voice for Walcha
The Voice for Walcha would like to respond to some comments and criticisms that have been raised in the community recently, from named and anonymous sources.
Regarding the accusation of NIMBY’ism, we would like to remind our accusers that what we have objected to is large scale industrial developments that impact negatively on our community and our landscape. We are taking the position we have taken because we value our community, our landscape, and our town, for the qualities that it has. We make no apology for defending Walcha and its unique and beautiful strengths.
We have argued that this project is;
- in the Wrong Place, (against the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, part of the Gondwana Rainforest Wilderness area. Requiring that project traffic travel through the LGA using Oxley Highway and Thunderbolts Way affecting traffic to Tamworth and Armidale, as well as affecting local traffic and residents North and East of Walcha.
- is the Wrong Size, (placing massive burdens on resources, housing, health services, childcare and other trade services)
- is being promoted by the Wrong Developer (inexperienced developer who is really a seller of turbine components, wanting to bolster dwindling European sales by entering the race as a learner developer)
Given that there are multiple projects being planned, it is not necessary for our community, or the NSW planning department, to open the floodgates for the first application – particularly if it is a poor-quality project. Let’s demand a good project from a good developer, for it to be successful.
Regarding the accusation of being anti-renewable, we have repeatedly stated our support of renewable technology, and the responsible transition to it. We are prolific users and investors of renewables ourselves, so to label us as anti-renewable is naive and off-target. This uneducated cheap shot is a sign of desperation and lacks knowledge in the argument.
Regarding the comment about Voice for Walcha objecting “for their own selfish reasons, and not for the greater good of the community or the environment”, we are not sure whether the irony of this comment requires us to even respond. We are not gaining anything financially from our actions.
Regarding accusations of errors and mistruths, we have had vague comments about “spreading mistruths”, “scaremongering” etc, but not once has anyone had the ability (or decency) to point out specific points that need correcting. We go to extensive lengths to fact check and are careful with information that is not verified. We welcome this effort by anyone who has bothered to describe any of our information as inaccurate, to point to specific examples, so that we can address them. That would be fair. By contrast, we have been able to point to a number of specific mistruths, inaccuracies, omissions, and misleading comments that Vestas have had to correct, or clarify. For example, the planning portal now includes a letter of corrections that Vestas has been instructed by the planning department to publish. This is, we are told, unprecedented, and points to the poor quality of the EIS documents that Vestas has provided. Further inaccuracies are yet to be dealt with.
Regarding the criticism of our lack of contribution to the debate of alternatives for energy supply, it was not a priority of ours to develop new ideas â€“ but there are plenty of other ideas, and BETTER ideas. For example;
Investment in off-grid generation. The ground footprint is already being used by structures, therefore no loss of agricultural land, no loss of biodiverse habitat, no change to infrastructure, no drain on water or gravel, no negatives to community. A team of smart and capable locals who can travel in a Pantech with a few ladders and tools are capable of doing this.
The $1.9billion (recently quoted by Doug Landfear as the cost of the Winterbourne project to buy parts from Vestas and install), could build well over 50,000 stand-alone residential solar systems with back up diesel generators. Never have a blackout or a power bill again. This could provide investment options locally, as a locally driven project.
For example, development in areas of non-prime agricultural land, where property sizes are much larger, implying fewer disaffected neighbours, in addition to a much more attractive return to host landholders, who could host a larger number of turbines on a larger parcel of (lower value) land.
Small Modular Reactors (SMR’s), that are becoming mainstream research and investment options for leading nations around the world. If located at existing coal fired power stations, there would be nil requirement for transmission upgrades, resulting in a more simple and a faster solution.
The options are endless and are not limited by our lack of contribution to the conversation.
We want to restate our motivation for our activity, that we want the best outcome for Walcha, and we want everyone to be informed and have an opportunity to participate in the conversation while there is an opportunity to do so. To ignore this process, only to find ourselves in an industrial landscape that we were not aware was coming, would be a shame. Let’s participate, not be the plaything of an offshore developers profit driven desire, but drive the agenda ourselves, to suit our community.
If it were not for the massive amount of support our office and group receives daily, we would not be motivated to continue. We are determined to avoid any personal vilification, and to prevent any division. That does not preclude us from having a Voice for Walcha.
We thank the Walcha community for their continued interest and involvement during this critical time in our towns future. We wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and safe and happy New Year.
Voice for Walcha