The community event held by the proponents of the Fremantle Wind Farm at the North Fremantle community hall on 9th June has reinvigorated the windfarm debate. The room was packed with people who supported the proposal with many prepared to become community shareholders. So why, with such strong community support is a windfarm on Rouse Head less probable now than it has been for several years?
The simple answer is that Fremantle Ports are less than enthusiastic about the concept. The say this is for two reasons, firstly they are reticent to go head-to-head with the community to get it approved, and secondly they fear push-back from waterside workers over potential health issues related to infrasound. Well, as I understand it the MUA support the windfarm and anyone at the North Fremantle hall would think the community was very much behind the proposition. However, there are some strong forces against it, back in February 2008 Council considered a request to extend the approval of the Fremantle Wind Farm. It’s a debate I remember well, as I promised to resign from Council should the approval not go ahead. The fight against the approval was spearheaded by then Councillors Dowson and Lauder. The vote was 7 to 6 in favour, so the extension of time was approved, and I stayed on Council by the skin of my teeth. It is this close decision that leads Fremantle Ports to say there is limited community support.
However it is my considered opinion that Fremantle Ports reticence is more likely due to the potential impact a windfarm will have on their plans to develop a marina on Rouse Head, tenders to develop such a marina would be much reduced if they had to share Rouse Head with a windfarm.
I do hope the proponents have a win on this as I believe a windfarm on Rouse Head would be a boom for Fremantle and our community. Ultimately the proponents cannot do this on their own, they need strong, vocal community support to win the day. Come on Freo, are you up for it?