Some places are sacred

“to seek out what regions he has reached by the wind, to seek out who occupies the land (for he sees it is uncultivated), whether humans or wild beasts, and to report his discoveries to his companions.” – Virgil in the Aeneid

Wind energy on the Nut?

Sydney-based developer Epuron is planning a series of wind farms in Tasmania, the first of which would be located on the Stanley peninsula.

According to Epuron, the proposed 12 turbines will stand about two kilometres to the North-West of the Nut, a volcanic outcrop in Bass Strait. This windy site is powered by the roaring forties that carried sailing ships across the southern ocean in the 19th century. The company claims that this site “has the potential for the highest energy yield per turbine in Australia”.

This is what the N-W town of Stanley looked like in the 1800s when it was under the control of the Van Diemens Land Company settled on stolen aboriginal land to grow wool for export.

Van Diemens Land Company establishment at Circular Head, pulungina martula country

Local objection to wind energy in North-West Tasmania
Local farmer, Robert Smith, told A Current Affair: “They wouldn’t put a wind farm near Uluru … they’re talking about sending the power to Melbourne and our power’s not going to be any cheaper.” So, not the first time Tasmania is the site of exploitative exports.

I wonder if the good people of Stanley complained when the Mutitjulu people refused whitefellas access to their sacred place of Uluru?

The turbines are proposed to connect to an already existing Port Latta substation via an underground powerline.

The project is still in the development phase, including community consultation which was the subject of last nights Current Affair on Channel Nine.

Colonisation of Van Diemens Land was an ecological disaster.

The colonisers interfered with the ‘natural’ world and brought on an ecological disaster. They were blithley unaware that Tasmania had been managed for ages by aboriginal people. British colonial ignorance destroyed a thousand years of land management in the space of fifty (50) years.

Even before the island was proclaimed Tasmania, settlers had made the native emu and forester kangaroo extinct. Not to mention the killing of native birds, marsupials, rosellas, eagles, devils and thylacines. Sometimes, as Louisa Meredith observed, their destruction was done on the basis of nothing more than prejudice.

Over grazing depleted native perennial and annual grasses and introduced weeds which soon compacted and eroded the soil. Scotch thistle was a plague on the land along with blackberry, docks and sorell. Rabbits and feral cats multiplied and the introduction of the English hunting dog reeked havoc among the emus and local kangaroos who had no natural enemies because the devils and tigers jaws weren’t strong enough.

I agree with farmer Robert Smith about one thing, some places are sacred.

Sustainable?
Is Epuron, a  privately owned wind energy company, doing anything to challenge the capitalist model of infinite growth in resources and consumption of fossil fuels, and associated pollution, on a finite Earth?

The township of Yulara is situated outside Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, about a ten-minute drive from the entry station.

Here is what the company website claims: “Epuron is working with both mining and utility clients to provide reliable, off-grid power using solar and wind energy to supplement diesel or gas power supplies. This includes projects like our TKLN Solar systems, supplying remote townships, or the Yulara solar project which provides essential power to Ayers Rock Resort.”

So, as farmer Robert Smith pointed out, Epuron wouldn’t put up wind turbines to power Uluru, it provides solar power instead.

Ian Curr
6 August 2021

A view of the Nut from Highfield. Original drawing by J Curr
Sign at Stanley acknowledging pulingina martula traditional owners of the N-W region. Photo: G. Curr

One thought on “Some places are sacred

  1. What is 'sacred'? says:

    Yes I agree some places are sacred although the article doesn’t clarify what is sacred about the NUT, either to indigenous people or the colonisers. The wind farm is not actually at the NUT, but 2 kilometres away to the north-west; what many might consider a “reasonable distance” as wind farm aesthetics are ‘’in the eye of the beholder’’. Most public surveys show about 70 to 80 percent community support for wind farm developments, in recognition of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels due to the climate emergency we are facing.

    In my experience of working in and around Welsh wind farms, and extensive reading on wind farm development, most of the local farmers who protest against wind farms are the ones whose properties won’t have the wind turbines and receive the $10,000 plus annual income per turbine. This diversifies farmers’ income and makes the farms more sustainable in bad seasons when income from food production can fail completely. Furthermore, the footprint of the wind turbines and associated infrastructure is very small and allows for farming to continue almost to the base of the wind turbine.

    Farmer Robert’s states that electricity prices won’t be reduced due to the wind farm. Well electricity prices have recently fallen substantially and this is in a large part due to the cost of solar and wind farms now producing energy at much cheaper rates now than coal or gas plant, hence putting downward pressure on the wholesale price of electricity.

    Humans are facing an existential threat from a rapidly heating global climate system driven by a capitalist model of infinite growth in resources and consumption of fossil fuels, and associated pollution, on a finite Earth – the only known habitable planet. We have yet to learn from indigenous cultures on sustainable living.

    What does it mean to be a sacred place?

    Humans, driven by the capitalist economic system, are trashing the Earth’s life support systems for many species, through continual expansion and use of non-renewable resources and the resulting pollution. We are already in an extinction phase, as Extinction Rebellion rightly point out.

    So when we think of sacred, we should really be considering Earth’s life support systems that make it habitable and productive for humans to live along with other species. See this link for more information on planetary systems and boundaries humans are impacting.

    Trevor Berrill
    8 Aug 21

    See https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries.html

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