It seems perfectly obvious to us that financial benefits from wind farms should be spread equitably throughout communities that host wind farms. Of course, if you were opposing wind farms, as they do at The Australian, you'd be a bit concerned to see this happening. After all, people might start welcoming wind farms in their area and you wouldn't want that.
This was a letter we wrote to the Oz responding to a beat up article of theirs this week. Perhaps not surprisingly they decided not to publish it so we will here.
29 March 2016
The initiative by wind farm developer WestWind (“Wind farms used to buy neighbours silence” 29/3) in offering to share financial benefits with immediate neighbours should be welcomed. The Australian Wind Alliance has campaigned to industry for more equitable benefit sharing for some time, and these types of arrangements are now becoming commonplace for new wind farm projects in New South Wales.
Communities that host wind farms already benefit from construction and ongoing jobs, income for farmers who host turbines and community funding. However, the situation where turbine hosts receive significant payments while their immediate neighbours may receive nothing clearly raises issues of equity.
Lease payments to host farmers tend to be flow back to the local community through hiring of local contractors, fencing and weed control work. It’s likely that neighbour agreements would multiply this economic effect, and makes such arrangements a no-brainer.
This puts wind farms in a unique position. Look around Australia at major electricity generators and try to name any other type (coal, gas, etc) that shares wealth in this way with the community, rather than just the operator.
National Coordinator, Australian Wind Alliance