Fifteen-year fight for wind farm
ALMOST 15 years ago, Ironpot graizer Ian Schafferius and his wife Judy started advocating for the Coopers Gap Wind Farm.
At the time there was a vocal cohort of farmers and concerned citizens who worried the turbine field would ruin their livelihoods but Mr Schafferius saw things differently.
The pair started the Coopers Gap Wind Farm Supporters Group in an effort to balance some of the negativity around the project.
But pushing for the development in those early days came at a price.
"We copped a lot of flak and a lot of stress from other farmers in the area," Mr Schafferius said.
Once construction starts in the new year up to seven of the wind farm's 128 turbines are to be built on the Schafferius' property on Red Tank Rd.
Six will line the tableland on the south flank of Mr Schafferius' home block while the seventh will be built on an unconnected paddock along Niagra Rd.
They don't know how high each one will be or their exact location of the turbines as AGL is still mapping the set-up but all the same the family is happy to see the project come about.
"A bloke said to me the other day that the farm won't look the same but when we looked at them in South Australia and New Zealand too, they didn't won't worry me too much," Mr Schafferius said.
"I think you'd get used to it and I don't mind looking at them."
The project was initiated by Investec and in those early day it was planned to be much larger.
"It affected a lot more landholders, but once AGL got hold of it, it was pulled in, with less turbines," Mr Schafferius said.
He reckons the early plans had more support because a great number were in line for the rent cheques.
When the scope of the project changed so did the community's attitude.
"As soon as they weren't getting any turbines out of it or getting any money they were against it straight away," Mr Schafferius said.
Opponents claimed the turbines would have a detrimental effect on human and animal health but Mr Schafferius puts no stock in their claims.
"I've asked people to show me some firm evidence that they are bad for health and they can't," he said.
"If a qualified doctor or scientist comes out with proof then that is a different matter, but they haven't."
Of the roughly 17 reports Mr Schafferius has come across, none point to potential ill effects.
"I'd rather have (wind turbines) next to me than a coal mine or a gas well, not that I'm a greenie," Mr Schafferius said.
"You can put them there and still run your cattle, that's what others do, you can still run the same amount of cattle and it doesn't have any effect on them.
"We breed horses here and will still run them just the same. It won't make any difference."
As a host, the family will be entitled to rent from AGL.
Not only will the lease supplement their yearly income but will ensure there is food on the table in lean years.
"You've got to have something coming in when there is a drought," Mr Schafferius said.
This means there is a greater chance they will have something to hand to future generations.
The project will create jobs in construction and maintenance.
"I'm glad it went ahead and all our work wasn't for nothing," Mr Schafferius said.