Landowners Tim and Cassandra Sullivan have been battling for the past four years to have the proposed Kerrs Creek Wind Farm project scrapped.
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Boomey residents of seven years, the Sullivans live and work on their fourth-generation farm, cropping, running cattle and trading meat in the agriculture space.
The family isn't alone in opposing the potential 63-turbine wind farm either, with a strong contingent of the community saying they're constantly asking questions.
Two community consultations have been held, but Mrs Sullivan says very little clarity is provided in return; with "irregular and inconsistent engagement" from Renewable Energy Systems (RES) Australia.
"The forums are based on the individual asking questions to a member of RES staff, rather than an open floor discussion where everyone can listen to each other's questions, hear each other's concerns, and learn in the process," she said.
"RES has designed the meetings to ensure divide in the community and, certainly in the last session, the meeting felt like it lacked expertise and professionalism.
"Most staff were not wearing branded shirts and the individual set to take over the project had only been in their job for two weeks."
Landowners participating in wind farm developments benefit financially from housing turbines on their properties.
Estimated payments range between $30,000 to $35,000 per turbine - with additional yearly payments for the kilowatts they produce.
But Mrs Sullivan says those benefits are "kept confidential" and, in this instance, the financial advantage is limited to just five families.
"The issue is no one truly knows how much landholders will benefit, or suffer from, once [the turbines] are actually here," she said.
"Yes, there is the potential for financial gain in agreeing to host turbines on your property, but what people are failing to recognise is the decrease in total valuation wind farm developments bring not only to your property, but to those of your neighbours.
"There is a real and significant impact to each landowner in their ability to continue to farm their property as they once had.
"But since the day we moved here, we've loved this community more than a dollar figure could ever convey or replace."
The Kerrs Creek development proposes some of the biggest turbines to ever be constructed in Australia, but Mrs Sullivan says the community won't gain from having them.
Despite quoting an "$8.5 million community funding benefit" on RES Australia posters, Mrs Sullivan claims the company is still yet to confirm if Cabonne would receive any electricity from the project.
Queried by ACM as to which postcodes would receive the turbine-powered electricity, the response on October 11 from RES Australia read:
The project will generate electricity which will be exported to the National Electricity Market which extends across eastern Australia, including the local region. The 300,000 homes figure is an equivalency which gives an indication of the scale of renewable energy the project could generate.- RES Australia response as to which LGAs would receive the power.
"There has to be a better way forward and a more appropriate response to renewable energy, [but] decisions are being made based on financial gain and financial gain alone," Mrs Sullivan said.
"Our border is split into two, where one half is in Dubbo and the other half sits in Cabonne, but none of the funding or power will go to Cabonne.
It is a plan fraught with detrimental possibilities.- Boomey resident, Cassandra Sullivan on wind farm proposal.
"We should not be building 280-metre-high turbines on prime agricultural land to provide a power source for major cities, and we know this, because RES [Australia] confirmed that the majority of the power will be distributed to major cities.
"It is a plan fraught with detrimental possibilities."
Residents say they've reached out to both Cabonne and Dubbo councils, claiming each knows very little about the project due it being in state area.
Environmental concerns from community members (and experts in the field) are also long-winded.
Issues listed negative long-term operational drawbacks of wind farms, covering biodiversity impacts and ecosystem imbalances.
One report, published by global information analytics company, Elsevier, shows research of a "significant decrease" in surface moisture where wind farms are located, drying out soil by up to 4.4 per cent.
"Wind farms could have a catastrophic impact on agriculture that is already under immense climatic pressure," Mrs Sullivan said.
"And from an environmental standpoint, these turbines would have a disastrous ecological impact on local biodiversity.
"The balance of nature that agriculture so heavily relies on."
Looking ahead in 30 years' time - when the turbines would no longer be usable - the technology to decommission and recycle turbines of such magnitude, does not yet exist in Australia.
Wind farms could have a catastrophic impact on agriculture that is already under immense climatic pressure.- Boomey landowner, Cassandra Sullivan rejects turbine proposal.
Mrs Sullivan says tonnes of cement will also be left underground at the end of their lifespan.
"Along with kilometres of cables that are simply too hard to extract," she said, "and when we asked about the quantities of cement and cabling, RES [Australia] could not provide details."
But RES Australia has already completed its scoping document, meaning the next step for the proposal is sending the Secretary's Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) documents to the Department of Planning And Environment.
From there, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would then be required - giving those opposed only 28 days to launch objections to the submission.
When we asked about the quantities of cement and cabling, RES [Australia] could not provide details.- Boomey resident, Cassandra Sullivan on engagement with company.
The short time frame means those who wish to object to the project must already have commenced planning their objections; this is to ensure they meet the deadline.
"The process can be confusing and is largely all online," Mrs Sullivan said, "but if there is a significant number of relevant objections, the planning department will make a decision if referral to the Independent Planning Commission is required."
Which is the stage the Voice for Walcha campaign is up to after community members submitted major concerns.
Residents share similar, if not the same, wind farm gripes as those in Boomey have.
But if objections to the Kerrs Creek proposal aren't successful, then the Sullivans will instead be pushing for community benefits across Cabonne.
"What I'm learning, from people who've walked this path before, is that although at times you feel powerless to the process, you are not," Mrs Sullivan said.
This is our home and this is our community, and we don't want to see it destroyed.- Boomey resident, Cassandra Sullivan opposes turbines on family's property.
"We are committed to spreading awareness about the true nature of this proposal and we demand that our community has a voice here.
"This is our home and this is our community, and we don't want to see it destroyed; especially for the next generation coming through."
Plans to organise a meeting for the broader community on November 30 will be updated on the new Voice for Cabonne website.
ACM reached out to RES Australia with a second round of questions. An article with the company's provided responses will follow.
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