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"Unique Vista threatened"

Tuesday, 29th January, 2008

"Unique Vista threatened"

Silverton's landscape is so unique that a wind farm on its surrounding hills would irreversible destroy its attraction to artists and tourists alike, according to two artists opposed to the development.

Local artist Albert Woodroffe says a proposal by Epuron to build up to 500 wind turbines along the surrounding Barrier Ranges was not worth the sacrifices he says Silverton will make.

He said the wind farm will destroy the vista of the Barrier Ranges and in turn Silverton as a tourist attraction and mecca for artists. "I'm not against alternative energy; I'm against the placement of it (the wind farm)," he said. He said Silverton was Broken Hill's biggest tourist attraction and contributes $12.3 million a year to the local economy.

"We've done a tremendous amount of work to brand Silverton, we've got a million hits on our website (and) 160,000 people a year come to Silverton.

"They come out here to experience it, not to see wind turbines.

"To have a wind farm in front of me here would be like a miner pulling up at work and having nothing to pull out of the ground," said Mr Woodroffe. Artist Warwick Fuller has been painting the Silverton landscape for nearly 20 years.

He said he has very strong conservationist views about pursuing sustainable alternative energy and was initially sceptical about Albert Woodroffe's condemnation of the wind farm proposal. However, he changed his mind once he realised what was proposed. 

"This is a very unique place and the benefits of a wind farm don't stack up against what the community is going to lose," he said. 

Mr Fuller lives near a wind farm at Hampton, which has only two turbines. 

"They are not obtrusive, the visual aesthetics is not a problem," he said. 

Pursuing clean wind farm energy is admirable, he says, but argues the aesthetic impact of 500 wind turbines is too great. 

"This is a very unique area and the wind farm in no way can be disguised," he said.

"Where they are going to be (at Silverton) will be a blight on the landscape...you'll see them from wherever you are. 

"They would dominate every visual aspect of this landscape."

Mr Fuller, a Senior Fellow of the Royal Art Society NSW and national figure in the Australian art scene, said he was attracted to the Silverton landscape because it pushes him to be more creative. 

"There's a very subtle and delicate line and look of the landscape...I get more satisfaction working in this harsh, almost primeval country. 
"It would take so little to destroy that." He said he didn't know how he could add to the opposition to the wind farm. 

"Anything I can do, I will. 

"It would be criminal to destroy what they have here at Silverton."

Mr Fuller said he was not against progress. "Progress is fine, I'm a great advocate for progress to find more environmentally friendly energy sources.

"But you can't just take something you want regardless of any other quality or benefits. 

"You've got to put weight into everything and the weight of the wind farm in that location doesn't stack up." 

Mr Woodroffe says he wants to get as many high-profile Australian artists into the region to paint and raise support in opposing the wind farm. 

"I want them to catch all its moods and beauty, to understand what the Barrier Ranges is."

Mr Woodroffe also hopes the local artists will act to support their subject matter. 

"People make a living from painting these ranges and they have not been consulted. "I hope other artists start voicing their opposition."

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