by Roger Findlay

One of the windiest places I have ever visited apart from Cape Town RSA is in the north east region of Tasmania. If you have been following the news you would have heard of Musselroe Bay and the controversial plans to erect giant wind generators along the coastline.

Many people are concerned about the impact on the local bird life including the two types of eagle and the Forty Spotted Pardalote as well as the visual effects.

Montagu Island

Almost ten years ago, Jeanette and I stayed at a B&B in Smithton and it was there that we met Khalid who was using the facility as a base for his studies. Khalid (an Iraqi) was quite a character. He had studied in the UK and was known as the Greasy Arab! He had more money than all the other students and a flash car that made him extremely popular. Like me, Khalid loved a beer and we enjoyed his company on a night out at the Smithton Club.

Khalid also had a small caravan out on the tiny Montagu Island not far from Montagu. By chance, we met him on his way back from the island. He had waded across on low tide. He told us of the caravan with no power and the several days of solitude when he was out there doing his job.

Study the Effect on Birds

As a bird expert and the co-author of a major book, Khalid had been contracted by the Victorian Government to study the impact of wind generators on bird life. Part of this assignment was to assess the number and types of bird on Montagu Island.

It was good to hear that in all his time conducting the study he had never seen a bird that had been killed by the giant wind mill blades. He suggested that birds would move away from the area but then return once they got used to the sound of the rotating blades.

King Island and Woolnorth Wind Generators

We haven’t been close to the wind generators at Woolnorth but we have been very close to those on King Island. Because of the natural wind noise, it was hard to gauge how loud the wind generators were but I guess they were much quieter than we had expected.

If ever you find yourself up at Woolnorth, take the short drive to Montagu and the reserve at Stony Point. It is a beautiful natural setting for camping or parking the caravan. Look over to Montagu Island. Who knows… you may even see the Greasy Arab going about this most unusual task.

Read more about the Tasmanian wind generators at Woolnorth and King Island (and other sites) at the  website of Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources

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