Abbott continues ‘ugly’ attack on wind turbines

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has continued his attack on wind turbines, labelling them ‘ugly’ a day after lamenting he had been unable to restrict clean energy growth further.

But the prime minister admitted his only up-close encounter with a wind farm is the partly Howard government-funded sole turbine on Rottnest Island, which saves the island hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Mr Abbott prompted environmentalist outrage on Thursday when he declared wind turbines ‘visually awful’ and bragged he had reduced them as much as possible in a freshly signed deal on a renewables target.

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Australia’s Prime Minster Tony Abbott launched another attack on “ugly,” “noisy” wind turbines on Friday, prompting Labor’s environment spokesman saying the matter had become “more than a joke.” “Tony Abbott is actively campaigning against an industry that employs thousands of Australians, attracts billions in investment and reduces Australia’s carbon pollution,” Labor’s environment spokesman Mark Butler told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday. “No other world leader would show such recklessness towards one of their own industries.”

After describing wind turbines as “visually awful” on Thursday, Abbott said on Friday his government’s decision to reduce the Renewable Energy Target had prevented “an explosion of these things right around our country.”

When asked if he had ever visited a turbine, Abbott recounted a cycling excursion on Western Australia’s Rottnest Island, which built a turbine in 2004 with a subsidy from the Howard government, of which Abbott was a minister.

“Up close, they’re ugly, they’re noisy and they may have all sorts of other impacts which I will leave to the scientists to study, and that’s why I think it’s right and proper that state governments should have increased the distance from habitations that these installations now need to keep,” Abbott told reporters in Canberra.

“Frankly, it’s right and proper that we have reduced the Renewable Energy Target because, as things stood, there was going to be an explosion of these things right around our country.

“There will still be some growth, but it will be much less than it would otherwise have been thanks to measures that this government has taken.”

Treasurer Joe Hockey last year described wind turbines as ” utterly offensive.”

The Renewable Energy Target was reduced in May to 33,000 gigawatt hours after a decline in electricity use in Australia meant the original target based on 20 percent of 2020 levels had increased to 26 percent.

Rottnest Island’s sole turbine produces 40 percent of the island’s electricity needs, saving 385,000 U.S. dollars in fuel costs and the emission of 1,100 tonnes of greenhouse gas each year.