Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Finding balance in the wind

Principle 8: Integrate rather than segregate

A family visit to the wind farm near Dalesford in Feb 2012
I've been feeling uncomfortable with the division that has been emerging in our community about the proposed Cherry Tree Wind Farm. These tactics, employed by the Australian Landscape Guardians, have been used before to divide the local community and create angst. Who wants their community divided? I don't like it, and have been looking at what the two positions have in common.

The local newspaper, the Seymour Telegraph, has been publishing letters from both sides of the debate along with regular updates of how the planning application is progressing (or not) with Council / VCAT. The paper has provided an important outlet for the local community to express their opinion, but it tends to fuel more adversity. I've contributed a couple of letters recently - picking out elements of the 'anti-wind' letters that align with the 'pro-wind' letters:
Published 7th November in the Seymour Telegraph
Lee Stephenson raises an important point when she discussed the issue of reducing our consumption of energy to help address global warming in her letter to the editor (31/10/12). It's something that we can all do as individuals that will benefit our hip pocket and our environment.
Our family manages quite comfortably using 85% less electricity than a typical home in our area. Our 1.5kW solar PV system produces over twice the energy that we consume. We've been able to do this by making better use of the sun's energy, directly and indirectly.
Plants play an important part in how we reduce our dependence on external energy sources, providing us with food, mulch, compost, fuel, shade, building materials and habitat for wildlife (including our kids) - all at our doorstep. Plants are the most efficient converters of the sun's energy.
Rather than turning to "our scientists and great thinkers" to solve the worlds problems at some point in the future we should all do something to address these issues now, using existing technology and ideas (like permaculture). We need to do this here and now or, as Lee says, "we may well be doomed".
Let's reduce our dependence on polluting fossil fuels so that finding sustainable solutions isn't so challenging.
- Richard Telford, Seymour

Published 14th November in the Seymour Telegraph
As Peter Hill points out in his letter to the editor (Telegraph, November 7) most residents in the Whiteheads Creek and Trawool Valley "are in favour of all renewable energy sources as was evidenced at the special general meeting of council". Not only that, most (if not all) councillors voiced their support for renewable energy.
Consensus in the science community along with acknowledgement from council and residents alike, accept that climate change is real and is negatively affecting our environment. It's clear that we need to replace fossil fuel energy sources with renewables, and the sooner the better.
Climate change is everyones problem, it affects us all. What are we doing in our local area to address this issue? Are we expecting that other people, somewhere else, are going to do 'something' about it? What sort of sacrifices are we expecting 'them' to make for us?
If not here, then where? If not now, then when?
- Richard Telford, Seymour
I caught up with a friend recently, who does not support the Wind Farm, who asked me if BEAM (the local environment group that I am involved with) would be interested in hearing from a member of the local Landscape Guardians. I was surprised and quite excited by the prospect, not that I expect that we will resolve the issue, just that local people are prepared to sit down and listen to each other. Perhaps we can "acknowledge the profound differences and discover the common ground", as a BEAM member suggests.

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