by BRENDAN GULLIFER, The Courier
Property owners gagged by wind turbine companies will be able to give evidence to a Federal Senate inquiry. Family First Senator Steve Fielding was in Glenbrae yesterday to encourage locals to make submissions to the inquiry into the social and economic impact of wind farms in rural areas.
Standing against a backdrop of rotating Waubra wind turbines, Senator Fielding said it would be a “real concern” if anyone was gagged from coming forward on the issue.
“Clearly people in this region, in Waubra and beyond, haven’t been heard and this is your chance to have your say,” Senator Fielding told a group of about 20 residents.
“I don’t know of any other country at the federal level having an inquiry like this.
“If a confidential agreement has been made you have to honor that as well, but it would be a shame not to hear views in a way that doesn’t reveal details.”
Under Senate inquiry rules, a person is prohibited from inducing another person to refrain from giving evidence.
Senate inquiries also carry Parliamentary privilege and evidence may be given confidentially.
It is understood further advice is being sought in relation to confidentiality agreements signed with wind farm companies, and Senator Fielding said he will make further investigations into the matter.
The meeting was held at the former home of Carl and Sam Stepnell. Mr and Mrs Stepnell and their three children relocated to Ballarat last week due to claimed adverse health effects from living in close proximity to turbines.
“We couldn’t handle it any more,” Mr Stepnell said after the meeting. “All the symptoms…” Mr Stepnell said the house had five turbines located within a kilometre.
Meanwhile, the Clean Energy Council was in Ballarat this week with a report confirming that noise from wind farms does not have any adverse health effects.