The Press Release that sparked this news story
Australia’s Largest Windfarm Labelled “Neighbours from Hell” and “Hypocrites”
The CEO of a Spanish renewable energy company constructing Australia’s largest windfarm has been labelled a hypocrite and the project was accused of being the “neighbour from hell” by angry residents and landowners, promoting intervention from the Australian government.
Local farmers and residents neighbouring the MacIntyre Wind Farm Precinct under construction near Warwick Queensland have accused Acciona Energía Global chief executive Rafael Mateo of hypocrisy after Mr Mateo recently called on the Australian government and industry to do more for community consultation on renewable projects. (See link below.)
Residents living near the site of what is set to become one of the world’s largest onshore wind farms accuse Acciona Energía of engaging in the very practices they accused others in the industry of doing.
Mr Scott Tait, one of several upset neighbours, said, “The global CEO has called out bad behaviour within the sector when his company is guilty of the same bad behaviour. It is blatant hypocrisy.”
Mr Tait said the poor behaviour includes knocked down fences, man-made dust storms, transport disruption, lack of consultation and exclusion from local community meetings.
“They are the new neighbours from hell, and I feel for my elderly neighbours who have endured incredible stress from the disrespect and poor behaviour from the Acciona team in Australia,” Mr Tait said.
Another nearby neighbour and highly respected Agricultural Manager, Mr Ben Hammond, echoed Mr Tait’s comments.
“Acciona make me sick. I want to warn everyone to be extra cautious in dealing with them, especially if you are not one of their direct landowners,” a clearly distraught Mr Hammond said.
Mr Hammond claimed the global company of blocked gates, creating culverts the size of swimming pools, blocking natural water courses, and the felling of several “scar trees”, culturally significant trees of the First Peoples.
“I don’t know how they got through cultural heritage because there are several scar trees knocked over and nobody has said a word about it.”
Mr Tait took the drastic step to write to the Infrastructure Commissioner, Andrew Dyer. “The Commissioner is coming to visit us and we are grateful but it shouldn’t have to come to this. All we wanted was to be included in the process.”
Mr Tait said he’d met with the local Mayor and council CEO from Southern Downs but got the impression they are just as frustrated as us. “Their hands are tied when they are against such big companies who are just bullies, at the end of the day,” said Mr Tait.
“We understand the renewable machine is not going away but it doesn’t take much to be respectful and inclusive. When I read what the Acciona CEO Rafael Mateo said this week about community engagement, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. What a joke,” he said.
He sent a warning to all landowners in Australia to do their due diligence at the start and ask questions early. Mr Tait also said if Mr Mateo reads this, he hopes he can get his Australian CEO to practice what the global boss is preaching.
Meanwhile, regional advocate and energy stakeholder expert, Ms Clare Wilkes, said the state government is listening where they can but more needs to be done. She has personally raised common community issues with federal Climate and Energy Minister, Chris Bowen.
I am in a unique position where I work for a very large international energy company, but I also represent landowners and farmers to ensure good outcomes,” Ms Wilkes said.
“Minister Bowen understands the importance of community engagement, but it should not be up to the government to make industry behave with integrity,” Ms Wilkes said.
“Bowen isn’t building the projects; he just has enabled development with long-overdue policy certainty for renewable projects. Unfortunately, this has created a stampede of companies that are trying to landlock to get access to the grid and with this comes a lot of cowboy-type actions.
“It’s important for landowners and neighbours to have someone represent them and make sure that person understands the industry because there are too many developers that do not act with the best intentions for the landowners and the neighbours,” concluded Ms Wilkes.
Ms Wilkes said she only works for companies that align with her purpose of ensuring great outcomes for landowners and communities. She said her work with landowners is a passion because she often secures better financial outcomes for landowners but also other things, like increased biosecurity.
“I don’t know how many of the developers can sleep at night; they should be named and shamed,” she said.