Lyons, M. Address to Wellington Council on Bodangara Wind Project

September 15, 2015

Mike Lyons addresses the Wellington Council about Infigen and the Bodangara wind project proposal

Madam Mayor, Councillors, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Thank you for the opportunity to address you this evening on behalf of the BWTAG and the many citizens who have sent in submissions in the last 6 working days.

In what appears to be a little of Deja Vu, I am again appearing before you, asking for Council to stand up and protect the residents of the Wellington LGA who will be adversely affected by the Bodangora Wind Farm project.

In 2013, 96% of respondents to the DoPI voiced their objection to the project. Since that time opinions against wind turbines have strengthened as more accurate and damning information regarding their adverse effects has come to light.

This has led to the Federal Gov’t authorising a Senate Select Committee to investigate, amongst other things, adverse health effects. The report is 250 pages, but well worth the effort to read.

I was called by the Senate Select Committee and subsequently asked to appear before them on a panel in Sydney where we were quizzed on many things but one of them was on our experiences in dealing with proponents of wind farms. More on that in a few moments.

In the case of Bodangora, the proponent is actually a $5 shelf company with no assets. Its parent company as we all know is called Infigen which is the rebirthed Babcock & Brown. That went bust owing about $10bn in one of the biggest corporate collapses in Australian history. Babcock & Brown was the rebirthed Enron Energy, a US company that also went bust owing $23 billion US in 2001. At that time, it was the largest corporate bankruptcy in American history.

Back to the present day and Infigen, with current debts of close to $1bn, is bleeding cash like a severed artery. In 2011/12, Infigen posted a loss of $55m. 2013, an $80m loss. 2014, a $9m loss blamed on the lack of wind. For the financial year ending 2015, Infigen’s statutory net loss increased by $294.7m whilst revenue decreased by 11.6%. Also for 2015, after Infigen sold ALL of its windfarms in the USA, recorded a $304m loss which was blamed by Managing Director Miles George almost entirely on… (and I quote)….the wind. For the 2016 year outlook, wind has already been blamed for a forecasted repeated poor performance

But they tell us the wind is free so the fact that Infigen can’t make a go of it after collecting massive Gov’t subsidies, actually gives an insight as to why they are so desperate to get Bodangora established. The answer, I suggest, is to sell it as fast as possible.

Which also begs the question of why would Council wish to be associated with a company who has no regard to our community, a track record as I have just outlined and a future as suspect as its past?

Fast forward to the end of the life of the wind farm and as far as decommissioning goes, it would be almost fanciful to envision that anyone of substance will be around to pay for the dismantling of worn out turbines. The wind industry’s claim that the scrap value will pay for the cost of decommissioning has been debunked worldwide and images of rusting and decaying turbines similar to those left abandoned in Hawaii should ring alarm bells with Council.

You may be wondering why the history lesson, but it does give you some idea as to just how desperate Infigen is to get projects like Bodangora up and running. At the Senate Select Committee hearing, Robert Griffin, a farmer from Infigen’s Flyers Creek project told of his family’s first hand experiences in dealing with Infigen. Bullying, misinformation, intimidation, lies and threats were the order of the day as a desperate company pulled every trick to get the turbines approved.

Councillors, don’t take my word for this, the evidence and much more, is on the Parliamentary Hansard and is publicly available.

More recently, Council’s acting General Manager can confirm that the photomontage Infigen used in the modification application that closed Sept 16th, was not of Bodangora. Instead, the proponent in what can only be described as arrogance toward the local community and the Council, simply photo-shopped in a view of the Capital Wind farm copied and pasted in the turbines, didn’t bother to tell anyone it was not of Bodangora and sent it off to the DoPI.

At what point was the proponent going to tell the Wellington community about this modification before submissions closed to the DoPI? History shows it had no intention as not a single advertisement appeared in the local paper to inform us of what was going on. This is typical of the total lack of Community Consultation we have come to expect from this proponent right from the word go.

In today’s edition of the Wellington Times, the proponent has stated that increased blade as described in the modification will bring greater benefits to the community. We call him out on it, we say it is untrue, and we challenge him to name them. Name the benefits.

The proponent as usual promises much but as always delivers….nothing.

Deception and lies appear to be the trade mark of the wind industry. On Sept 15, the Hon Senator John Madigan spoke in the Federal Parliamentary Senate about how the noise data reports from “tame” consultants appears to be altered on a regular basis to show that wind farms are noise compliant when in fact, they fail completely.

The fraudulent reporting of noise compliance appears to be somewhat endemic, and one has to wonder just how accurate is the proposed noise data and graphs for Bodangora, particularly when Steven Cooper wrote a more than scathing report on the sound estimates. He is also the renowned acoustician who in a world-wide first, effectively blew the lid on the Cape Bridgewater windfarm recently.

The proponent has been busy telling anyone who will listen that the only people opposed to the Bodangora project is the Lyons family. But again, that has been proven to be a lie as the number of submissions to Council clearly shows.

Further to the lie that this project has community support, the proponent is also desperate for us to believe they, (proponent) is a wonderfully solid corporate citizen who has nothing but the interests of the community at heart. I think what I have outlined above puts a lie to the honesty, integrity & true intentions of the proponent. On behalf of the BWTAG and what we believe would be by far, the majority of people within and outside of the Wellington LGA, I would finish by asking Council to withdraw all support from the Bodangora Wind Farm project both now and in the future.

The Community does not support the project and Council needs to stand up, protect its citizens. If this council cannot give its residents a 100% guarantee that this project will have no adverse health impacts on the neighbouring residents, residents of Bodangora and the Wellington Correctional Centre then the council should not support the project in any form until such time as the independent medical studies have been carried out.

Anything less would be negligent.

Thank you. I would be more than happy to field any questions from Councillors.

Download Mr Lyons’ address →