Wind farm to generate clean power in Australia

TONY EASTLEY: The Clean Energy Council is hopeful that the carbon tax will work alongside other government programs to make renewable energy projects like wind farms more attractive and viable.

At the moment about 2 per cent of Australia’s energy is provided by wind power. But the idea of the industry expanding isn’t welcomed by some people. Two major wind turbines projects in the New South Wales Central West are facing stiff opposition, as Timothy McDonald reports.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: A proposed wind farm near Wellington could have as many as 250 turbines which would generate power for 190,000 homes.

The turbines will be 70 to100 metres tall. A few will go on Peter Zell’s property.

PETER ZELL: What’s in it for me? Everybody thinks the money first of all, but the money at the current rates wouldn’t run my business for a year. It’s more or less the environmental concerns in the future because the days of turning the light switch on and forgetting all about it are disappearing.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Do you think that you’re a beneficiary of the carbon tax?

PETER ZELL: Again, it’s up in the air. And the more information that’s provided, the more confused we can get. But I know if it stacks up environmentally I’ll be for that. But it’s that word tax, that doesn’t go down well with people on the land. We’re taxed quite well enough as it is now and it’s pretty much for most people I talk to in the country it’s mistrust of the Government, the way it was implemented.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The Clean Energy Council believes that with the right incentives up to 10 per cent of Australia’s power could come from wind farms by the end of the decade.

Already there are financial incentives to build them under the Government’s renewable energy target.

The acting CEO Kane Thornton says the carbon tax will work alongside that scheme and will ultimately make wind and other renewables more attractive.

KANE THORNTON: It will provide the long term certainty and it will therefore allow wind projects that are being planned right around the country to hopefully get closer to commercial close and start being constructed.

In the meantime I guess the short term driver for many wind farms around the country remains the national renewable energy target, and that remains the piece of policy that’s absolutely critical to wind farms.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: If a carbon tax means more wind farms, some people will be disappointed.

Anne Walker lives near the proposed Crudine Ridge Wind Farm, which is another wind project in the Central West.

She’s also the secretary and treasurer of the Industrial Wind Turbine Awareness Mudgee Alliance. She thinks maybe North Head or South Head in Sydney would a better place for the turbines.

ANNE WALKER: Let the people of Sydney have the wind turbines. Put them there. They’re the ones that use the power, not us.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: She says there are serious questions about the impact wind farms could have on the health of local residents.

ANNE WALKER: What we want to see is more research going into these things before they make more people sick.

If you had neighbours either side of your apartment or your house and they played loud music 24 hours a day, would that make you sick? And you can ring the police and get them to turn it off. I can’t ring the police and get them to turn a wind turbine off if it makes me sick.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The National Health and Medical Research Council says there’s currently no evidence to support claims that wind farms cause health problems. But a Senate Committee last year recommended more detailed studies of the issue.