On this page...
Introduction
Who accepts the facts?
Interpretation
Mr 9-in-1
Liberals want no CC action
Carbon tax affecting emissions
Victoria
NSW
Queensland joins in
South Australia
Poor research
Wind farms are popular
What's wrong with a 2km limit?
Institute of Public Affairs
Climate change policy BS
Hockey utterly offensive
Ethics
Socrates and Bruce
Links
Index
Other pages
Senator Chris Back
Senator Sean Edwards
Rowan Ramsey
David Ridgway
Angus Taylor
Search
Google search Ramblings

Liberals don't want sustainable energy

One of the Wind Power Ethics pages*

The world is moving away from fossil fuels in general and coal in particular. There are great economic and environmental oportunities in renewable energy. The Liberals are trying to keep Australia tied to nineteenth century power technologies while the rest of the world adopts renewables, inovation and progress.

Wind turbines at sunrise

 

2013/09/25

Crikey reported that only one member of the federal parliamentary Liberal Party had "explicitly campaigned for more [wind] turbines", Warren Entsch.
 

2013/09/05

The Liberals have announced their energy policies. An article on REnewEconomy reports that the Liberals, if elected, will 'restor coal-fired power stations to profitability', conduct yet another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms (there have already been 19 that have shown no health impacts) and force the wind industry to conduct 'realtime noise monitoring' on wind farms (at costs claimed to be crippling by the industry).
 

What is important?

My opinion is of little importance. It is the facts and the research that matter, and the reasoning that can be based on them.
 

What hope is there?

Talking about his time as an opposition staffer, on 2014/02/12 Tony Abbott said "My job was to disagree with everything [Prime Minister Keating] said". This is how the Liberal Party works in opposition; as we saw with Mr Abbott as leader. It doesn't matter what the government might want to do: good, bad or indifferent, the Liberal opposition will try to oppose it.
The Australian Liberal Party is showing many signs of not wanting to do anything to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas production rate, which is one of the highest in the world on a per-capita basis. The burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas and also causes ocean acidification; sustainable energy can replace much fossil-fuel derived energy.

Giles Parkinson wrote about the Tony Abbott's climate policy in RenewEconomy on 2013/08/15 and referred to The Climate Institute's damning report on the Coalition climate policy. Put simply, the Coalition's climate policy is a farce.

Tony Abbott and the Liberals have said that they will acheive the same emissions reduction target as Labor, but at his National Press Club address on 2013/09/02 Mr Abbott said they will spend a limited amount of money. Given that no expert seems to accept that Direct Action will work, this seems to be a statement that the Liberals have withdrawn support for a target.

Individual Liberal members of parliaments, state and federal, are shamelessly and unethically campaigning against wind energy in particular.

New Liberal governments have already crippled the wind industries in Victoria and NSW, and the SA Liberals – should they get into power – are promising to bring in laws that will make it unviable to build any more wind farms in many rural areas of SA (which presently generates 26% of its power by wind and has about half the nation's wind power).

This has gone so far that one must ask: are the Liberals in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry?, are they dominated by climate science deniers?, are they ignorant of the facts?, have they totally disregarded all ethical standards?, or all of the above?

I love the world the way it is. I find it mind-bogglingly beautiful. I can't understand how anyone would want to throw it all away for any bag of money, no matter how big, but this is what the Liberals want to do.

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Written 2011/12/23, modified 2014/03/17 – ©
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com

I, David Clarke, the author of these pages, do not receive any payment of any kind from the wind industry and am not a member of any political pary

If anyone can inform me of any errors on any of my pages I will be pleased to be informed of them so that I can correct them. Please provide evidence.

Most of the links on this page lead to further explanation and supporting evidence.

Wind energy opposition

About these pages





Introduction

The carbon tax and renewable energy target are working.
The Liberals will put the progress at risk.
Australian electricity and carbon 
trends
Image credit 100% Renewable


Wind power is popular, effective, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves lives by displacing polluting coal-fired power stations, yet the Liberals are set against it. Surely the only reason could be that they are being lobbied by the fossil fuel industry who provide the Liberals with major campaign donations?

 

Is there any other major political party, anywhere in the world, that actively opposes renewable energy?

I'd be interested if any reader could tell me of another major political party anywhere in the Western World, or for that matter, anywhere in the whole world, that actively works to stop the development of sustainable energy. Possibly the Republican Party in the USA?

About half the Liberals in Federal Parliament reject climate change science. See listings (for all parliamentarians) on the Lower House and the Senate. (February 2013).

 

If the Liberals don't want renewable energy, what do they want?

The Liberal Party is forward in its opposition to wind power, but reticent in stating what they will use instead. Will they build more polluting coal-fired power stations? Will they build gas-fired power stations (gas is very expensive and is still polluting, but less so than coal)? Or will they build nuclear power stations? None of these alternatives are sustainable or environmentally acceptable. (Rowan Ramsey, Federal Liberal Member for Grey, seems to prefer coal.)
 

Leaked documents reveal fossil fuel influence in White Paper

The ABC's Andrew Fowler reported, after reading leaked meeting minutes, that the Howard Government's Energy White Paper was heavily influenced by the fossil fuel industry and the big energy users while the renewable energy industry was not even made aware of the meetings that were taking place.
 

Wind power a great success in SA

In early 2003 SA had no sustainably generated electricity at all. In 2011 around 26% of SA's electricity was generated by sustainable wind power, the amount of greenhouse gas produced by the power generation industry had decreased by a similar amount, and the amount of power that SA imported from the eastern states had substantially diminished. At the same time, power consumption in SA had increased. (Data from Australian Energy Market Operator; see more here.)
 

13 square kilometre exclusion zones

A circle of 2km radius has an area of about 13 square kilometres, so in states where it is law that turbines not be built within 2km of houses every house will be surrounded by a 13km2 exclusion zone. This will put big gaps in many proposed wind farms and make most areas that would otherwise be well suited to wind farming unviable.
 

The saddest thing

The saddest thing about the anti-renewables stance of the Liberals is that it shows a complete abandonment of ethical principals in favour of some other agenda.
 

Unintended consequences

The decision of the Victorian Liberal Government to disalow wind turbines being built within 2km of homes without the home-owner's agreement seems to have had unintended consequences. Construction of five wind farms has been brought forward so as to avoid having to gain approval under the new laws. These wind farms might not have been built for months or years had the Victorian Government not changed the laws.
 

True cost of coal

Climate Progress published an article that discussed the true cost of coal when the economic, health and environmental costs are all taken into account. The original research was published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences by Dr. Paul Epstein. It was calculated that if the true costs of coal was considered the price of electricity from coal fired power stations would rise by about 18 cents per kilowatt-hour (or $180/MWh). This is far higher than the wholesale price of electricity currently paid to coal-fired power producers.
 

Organised political opposition to wind power in the USA

Suzanne Goldenberg wrote a piece for The Guardian titled "Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama's clean energy stratigy", 2012/05/08.
"The proposals suggest setting up 'dummy businesses' to buy anti-wind billboards, and creating a 'counter-intelligence branch' to track the wind energy industry. A network of ultra-conservative groups is ramping up an offensive on multiple fronts to turn the American public against wind farms and Barack Obama's energy agenda."
The strategy proposal has been linked to the American Tradition Institute, which sounds rather like a US equivalent to Australia's Institute of Public Affairs, which, of course, is closely linked to the Liberal Party.
Australia ranks 53rd in the world in population, but sixth in the world in the CO2 produced by its electricity industry; it has 0.3% of the world's population, but produces 1.5% of the world's greenhouse gasses; it is well up among the worst greenhouse polluters on the planet. This gives Australians an ethical responsibility to reduce the harm we are doing to the planet. The Federal Labor government is not doing a lot to reduce our greenhouse gas production rates, but after much dithering and mind-changing they finally legislated for a carbon tax to start in July 2012. The other major force in Australian politics, the Australian Liberal Party, are steadily becoming more strident in their statements indicating they don't want to do anything at all about reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

 
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In the long run it seems likely that wind and solar power will be cheaper than burning fossil fuels, so the Liberals will quite probably find out that by backing fossil fuels they have bet on the wrong horse.

The Europeans have long been leaders in attempts to reduce their climate change impact. While the Federal US government is doing little, much is being done in the USA at the state level. China is by far the leading nation in the world at present in construction of new wind farms as a way of reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and limiting greenhouse gas production.

The nations with a high per-capita rate of greenhouse gas production are the ones that have to accept most of the blame for climate change, while those that suffer the most from climate change will be the poorer nations like those of SE Asia and the pacific. (Several decades ago we could have claimed that we didn't know we were causing climate damage as an excuse for inaction; we no longer can.) Does Australia risk becoming an international pariah if the Liberals get into government and stop all action to improve Australia's position on climate change? Most Australians want action on climate change; are they willing to support a political party that wants to do nothing? Those who do will be as culpable as the Liberals themselves.

The Liberals in three Australian states have now come out in support of mandating no wind turbine being built within 2km of a home without the home owner's approval. Many people in Australia and around the world are living very happily much closer to wind turbines than that. There should be, and are, laws about maximum sound levels from turbines at homes, but a mandatory 2km limit is foolish, not supported by the evidence and will greatly limit renewable energy development in Australia.

It is proven that the emissions from coal-fired power stations damage people's health and cost people's lives. By making the building of wind farms unviable the Liberals will be responsible for thousands of unnecessary serious illnesses and hundreds of unnecessary deaths each year.
 
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Even the USA is acting on greenhouse gas production

The USA is the only country in the OECD that has similarly high greenhouse gas production rate, per capita, as Australia. The Federal US administration has generally been slower to act than some of the states; however there are signs that even the US is moving ahead.

Reported by The Climate Institute, 2012/03/29:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has for the first time proposed limits on carbon pollution from new power plants. (The EPA is required to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants by the U.S. Clean Air Act, due to the threat to health and welfare caused by carbon pollution. This was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007.)

The EPA has proposed that new power plants may emit no more than 1000lb (363kg) of CO2 per megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity produced. This standard permits combined-cycle gas plants, which emit 800lb CO2 per MWh, but it effectively precludes the construction of any new coal-fired plants unless they include carbon capture and storage. (The standard explicitly excludes open-cycle gas plants used to meet peak demand. For more detail, see http://epa.gov/carbonpollutionstandard/actions.html.)
 
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Who accepts the facts?

March 2013; Australia's hottest summer on record has just finished
yet half of our Federal Liberal politicians say it isn't happening!

This section was written before the federal election of September 2013. Please note that this is extracted from a posting by uknowispeaksense (see the bottom of the table).

Liberal politicians' stance on climate change science
DeniersAccepters
House of RepresentativesSenateHouse of Representatives Senate
Abbott, TonyAbetz, Eric (Tas)Alexander, John Birmingham, Simon (SA)
Andrews, KarenBack, Christopher (WA)Billson, Bruce Boyce, Sue (Qld)
Andrews, KevinBernadi, Cory (SA)Briggs, Jamie Brandis, George (Qld)
Bishop, BronwynBushby, David (Tas)Broadbent, Russell Cormann, Mathias (WA)
Gash, JoannaCash, Michaelia (WA)Buchholz, Scott Fifield, Mitch (Vic)
Haase, BarryEdwards, Sean (SA)Ciobo, Steven Heffernan, Bill (NSW)
Hawke, AlexEggleston, Alan (WA)Fletcher, Paul Humphries, Gary (ACT)
Jensen, DennisFawcett, David (SA)Frydenburg, Josh Payne, Marise (NSW)
Jones, EwenFierravanti-Wells, Concetta (NSW)Hockey, Joe Smith, Dean (WA)
Keenan, MichaelJohnston, David (WA)Hunt, Greg
Kelly, CraigKroger, Helen (Vic)Irons, Steve
Matheson, RusselMacDonald, Ian (Qld)Laming, Andrew
Mirabella, SophieMason, Brett (Qld)Ley, Sussan
Ramsey, RowanParry, Stephen (Tas)Macfarlane, Ian
Randall, DonRonaldson, Michael (Vic)Marino, Nola
Robb, AndrewRyan, Scott (Vic)Morrison, Scott
Robert, StuartMoylan, Judi
Schulz, AlbyO'Dwyer, Kelly
Secker, PatrickPrentice, Jane
Simpkins, LukePyne, Christopher
Wyatt, KenRoy, Wyatt
Ruddock, Philip
Smith, Tony
Southcott, Andrew
Stone, Sharman
Tehan, Dan
Tudge, Alan
Turnbull, Malcolm
Washer, Mal
Source: Lower House, Senate (uknowispeaksense – You know I speak sense). Data extracted for the above table in February 2013.

What is the science telling us?

 
Climate articles
Graphic credit: James Lawrence Powell
The pie chart on the right shows graphically what climate scientists have been trying to tell us for years; that the science of climate change is settled.

There's about as much doubt about global warming as there is about whether the Earth is flat or round.

 
Is it caused by Man?
Graphic credit: The Berkeley Blog
While the graph above shows how the vast majority of climate scientists accept that the climate is warming, the one on the right shows that the vast majority of climate and earth scientists accept that global warming is largely caused by Mankind.


But about half Australia's federal Liberal politicians would have us believe that they know better!

 
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Interpretation of the Liberal's message on climate change and renewable energy

My interpretation of the Liberal's message goes something like this...
"We don't want to see any form of subsidisation of renewables, nor risk the huge profits being generated by the coal industry. We don't necessarily believe what the vast majority of climate scientists are telling us, but if there is six degrees of climate change by the end of the century and the planet is stuffed, well hell, we've helped some of our very wealthy supporters to make a huge pile along the way!

Anyway, we are not really against renewable energy, we would be very happy to support renewables if they could compete with fossil fuels and be available on tap, and they didn't get in the way of the profitability of coal. (Never mind the unfair advantage that the fossil fuel industry has in being able to dump its pollutants into the atmosphere at no cost to itself.)"
This was developed during extensive reading of Liberal statements on wind power and a very limited exchange of emails with Senator Sean Edwards.
 
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Mr 9-in-1

January 2013; It seems that Tony Abbott's new policy advisor Maurice Newman hates wind power, denies climate change and doesn't trust science. He squeezes nine inaccuracies or fallacies into one sentence

Mr Newman has a page to himself on this site.

 

Libel?

As a self-funded retiree of moderate resources, I am a little concerned about possible legal action when I point out false statements from someone like Maurice Newman. While I believe that one cannot be guilty of libel if what one says about a person is true, there is still the possibility of an expensive legal action that might be needed to prove the point in court. In the MN case, I doubt very much that he would bring an action, because:
  1. he would know that he cannot substantiate his claims;
  2. he would know that I can prove my claims;
  3. he can see that I am criticising him from an ethical position and on ethical grounds;
  4. it is in the public interest that lies like his be exposed;
  5. he would know that he could not win and he would know that I know that he could not win;
  6. the negative publicity would be very harmful to him and the Liberals.
I believe that we all have an ethical responsibility to 'call-out' those people who are maliciously spreading fallacies about the renewable energy that we must adopt in order to slow the damage caused by climate change.
The following was published in Climate Spectator regarding a new Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council to advise the Executive Government, supposing that the Liberals get into government. The Council is to be headed by Maurice Newman. (The boxes on the right contain my comments.)

On wind power Mr Newman wrote in the publication The Spectator (not associated with Business or Climate Spectator) on January 21, 2012:

 

Impressive, nine fallacies in one sentence!

I have placed links on seven of the 'errors' on the left. The links will take readers to an explanation of the facts. Then there are two more inaccuracie: wind farms are less 'socially inequitable' than other forms of energy generation, consider community funding for example, and wind farms are much less environmentally harmful than coal, coal-seam gas, gas and nuclear. Whether they are a 'blot on the landscape' is subjective.
"Even before they threatened my property, I was opposed to wind farms. They fail on all counts. They are grossly inefficient, extremely expensive, socially inequitable, a danger to human health, environmentally harmful, divisive for communities, a blot on the landscape, and don't even achieve the purpose for which they were designed, namely the reliable generation of electricity and the reduction of CO2 emissions."

On the issue of whether human activity is leading to warming of the atmosphere he wrote in The Australian on November 5 last year:

 
The IPCC is composed of climate scientists. There is a strong consensus among climate scientists about anthropogenic climate change. It seems Mr Newman either doesn't trust science or doesn't understand how it works.
"When Mother Nature decided in 1980 to change gears from cooler to warmer, a new global warming religion was born, replete with its own church (the UN), a papacy, (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and a global warming priesthood masquerading as climate scientists."

Mr Newman was quoted in the UK Guardian as claiming that 'global warming is "somewhat in tatters" so there was no longer any logical reason' for renewable energy. (2013/06/16) Of course this is nonsense, there is no doubt that anthropogenic climate change is a fact and that it will lead to disastrous outcomes for the planet.

That a man with such opinions and capable of such lies could ever be a chief advisor of a Prime Minister of Australia is depressing, even disgusting.

 
Mr Newman does not have lack of information as an excuse for his lies on wind power. He is a member of the Community Consultative Committees for the Crookwell wind farms.
If Australia was to follow the opinions of people like Mr Newman it would put us very much out of step with our trading partners who recognise the value of sustainable energy, wind power in particular; for example the USA installed a record 13.2GW and China 14GW of wind power in 2012. (Australia's total wind power at the end of 2012 was 2.7GW.) Australia will be left behind with the most climate-polluting power generation system in the developed world.

Tony Abbott no judge of talent?

Not only does Maurice Newman seem to be a highly questionable choice as a senior advisor, but in April 2013 Tony Abbott had to demote another of his advisors following a 'drunken brain snap'. Mr Abbott's director of policy, Dr Mark Roberts, was demoted when he told Australian Indigenous Education Foundation chief Andrew Penfold that he would "cut his throat" when the coalition won government.

Surely one of the most valuable qualities in any (potential) national leader is the ability to choose advisors and assistants wisely and well. It seems that this is a quality that Tony Abbott is lacking.

 
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Liberal party opposed to climate change action

 
The Liberals prefer coal to wind. Perhaps they'd like Australian cities to look like this; so long as they had plenty of money in their pockets?
Beijing smog
Beijing people are reminded what a clear sky looks like by a big screen
Image credit: Feng li/Getty Images
We can learn a lot from China; they have huge environmental damage, but they are making equally huge steps toward adopting sustainable energy.
Signs that the Liberal Party is dominated by climate science deniers and lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry are becoming increasingly conspicuous:
  • Famously (or infamously) Leader of the Federal Opposition Tony Abbott has said that "Climate change is crap" and the Federal Opposition is implacably opposed to PM Gillard's carbon tax while not having an alternative policy to lower greenhouse gas production that any economist or environmentalist seems willing to support. Mr Abbott has also proposed to abolish the Climate Commission.
  • In August 2013, ahead of the September election, Tony Abbott vowed to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation if elected.
  • In August 2011 the Baillieu Victorian Liberal government placed in force new laws that will make further wind power development in that state very difficult;
  • Around the same time NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said on radio that "if I had my way, we wouldn't [approve any applications for wind farms in NSW]";
  • Also in August the WA Liberal Party voted 'by an overwhelming majority' for a Royal Commission into climate change science – indicating that they were not convinced that it is real.
  • In September 2011 rumours were circulating that Isobel Redmond, Leader of the (Liberal) Opposition in South Australia, was considering introducing laws like those in Victoria when and if she gains power. At the same time SA Shadow Minister for Energy Mitch Williams was using the inability of solar and wind power to provide peak load power as a way of devaluing sustainable energy, both in response to my written inquiry and on ABC radio. This seems to be a political ploy to make voters think that sustainable energy has serious short-comings, while the fact is that the power supply system can easily cope;
  • To cap it all off, in December 2011 the SA Liberals announced their wind farm policy in a flyer.

 
Clean energy: turbines and trees at Waterloo Wind Farm
Waterloo turbine
This photo was taken before I slept under one of the Waterloo turbines.
It is Federal Liberal Party policy to support "a twenty percent renewable energy target"; however their environmental policy document does not mention a target date. If they gain government will they retain the 20% by 2020 renewable energy plan put in place by the Rudd Labor Government, or will they change the target date to 2025 or 2030 or even later? I inquired in early October (2011), but significantly have not received a reply.

In any case, even if a Liberal Federal Government was to retain the 20% by 2020 target, where could the wind farms be built if Liberal governments in the states stand against renewable energy?

 
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This section added 2012/10/18

Carbon tax affecting emissions

 
Declining emissions attributed to the carbon tax
Emissions from electricity 
generation
This graph was compiled from Australian Energy Market Operator data and published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Tony Abbott has promised to abolish the carbon tax.

As I write this section the tax has only been in effect for a few months, but it seems to have already resulted in the carbon intensity of the National Electricity Market (NEM) electricity falling from about 0.9 tonnes of CO2 per MWh down to 0.85.

This is a good result at such an early time. It shows that effective action on climate change is quite possible so long as there is a will. (In fact far more could be done especially if the Federal Government was to stop compensating and subsidising the fossil fuel industry.)

So, if an Abbott government is elected, we can expect to lose this small but significant step in the right direction.

Thanks to REneweconomy for making this news public.

 
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Altered 2012/08/16

Victoria

Victorian Health Minister complains about $6 billion savings costing $13 million

An article in the Brisbane Times, 2012/08/14, by Julian Drape showed the degree of bias against renewable energy and action on climate change in the Victorian Government. Quoting from the article...
Tony McMichael, from Australian National University's College of Medicine, said ... "recent claims by Victoria's Liberal health minister, David Davis, that the carbon tax would add $13 million a year to the cost of running the state's hospitals ... were 'appalling', 'ignorant' and 'mischievous' because $13 million was a trivial 0.1 per cent of the state's annual spend."

"You can see the crudeness of that political exploitation of a society that is trying to take initial and useful steps to slow climate change in order to avert risks," he said at the launch of a report which suggests shifting to cleaner energy and transport could save the Australian community $6 billion a year in avoided health costs.

"A minister of health who holds or promulgates that sort of view ... is not fit to be a minister of health."
I have written a page on how wind turbines save lives elsewhere on this site.

Victoria greatly discourages the building of wind farms

 
Hazelwood coal mine fire, February 2014
Hazelwood fire
It seems that the Victorian Liberal government are quite happy to have coal mines in this area, even when they are run incompetently, but wind turbines are against the law. Does the reader see any ethical problems with laws like this?
Image credit 350.org
Victoria was the first Australian state, and probably the first government anywhere in the world, to outlaw the building of a wind turbine within 2km of a house without the consent of the owner of that house. There is no rational basis for this legislation (other than an apparent desire to stop the development of sustainable energy and thus support the fossil fuel industry); sound levels should govern how close wind turbines can be to homes. (I have written more about the specifics of the laws on the Victoria wind power page.)

At the same time as bringing in the 2km law, the Victorian government proclaimed a number of 'no-go zones' for wind turbines. These seem to have been arbitrarily decided by someone in the Liberal Party and justification for their locations has never been forthcoming (see below).

ABC

 

The cost of Baillieu's policy

Friends of the Earth have produced a document outlining the cost of the Victorian government's anti-renewable energy laws including $887m in lost and stalled investment, 650 direct jobs and projects totalling 204 turbines and 408MW of generating capacity.
In an article by Anthony Steward on ABC On-line news, 2012/02/17, energy analyst Kobad Bhavnagri pointed out that the Victorian rules would push energy prices up. The logic is simple; we must move to renewable energy, wind power is the most practicable of the available options and if the best places to build wind farms are ruled out then they must be built elsewhere at higher prices or you have to go to other, more expensive, forms of renewable energy. Of course it is the consumers who ultimately pay the bill. The ABC requested a comment from Planning Minister Matthew Guy, but received no response.

The ABC World Today's Anthony Stewart reported on 2012/02/17:

"Six months after the Victorian Government brought in strict rules on wind farms, there are warnings the laws are forcing the industry out of the state. Since the guidelines were introduced no new wind farm energy projects have been proposed and the future of several existing projects is in doubt. There are fears Victoria will miss out on billions of dollars in investment and potentially force up the price of electricity."

Environmental Defenders Office

 
Wind turbines save lives by replacing coal-fired power generation which is a major producer of atmospheric pollution causing hundreds of deaths and thousands of serious diseases each year.
Michael Power wrote an article in the Climate Spectator entitled "Coal or wind in your back yard". The article was about a report released in the week ending 2012/04/27 by the Victorian Environmental Defenders Office. It states that the new wind farm laws "make it easier to obtain approval for a coal mine than a wind farm in Victoria." It also says that, as the same time as making it harder to build wind farms "the government has moved to relax the laws that apply to new mining projects".

Victorians call for action on climate change

 
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Adam Morton wrote an article under this headline in The Age, 2012/03/09:
"The Essential Media poll of 1009 Victorians, commissioned by conservation group Environment Victoria, found 76 per cent believed the state government should cut emissions and not leave it to the federal government to take action through a carbon tax or other steps. Among Coalition voters, 66 per cent said the state had a responsibility to cut emissions."
Another finding from the poll was that "just 22 per cent of voters consider wind farm laws that give householders right of veto over turbines within two kilometres of their house fair" and "50 per cent said the laws were not fair". "A majority said they wanted fewer coal-fired power plants (63 per cent) and more renewable energy (78 per cent) and energy efficiency (82 per cent)."

So it seems that the Victorian Liberals are 'backing the wrong horse' in supporting the fossil fuel industry against sustainable energy.

Victorian rules mystify Danes

 
Denmark has more wind power per capita than any other nation and Denmark is home to Vestas, a wind turbine construction company. Vestas has built turbine components in Australia in the past, but the sustainable energy industry under the Howard Government was so uncertain that the plant closed-down.
The following was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, 2011/11/26;
"The head of the world's largest wind energy company has questioned the Baillieu government's rationale for giving households veto rights over turbines within two kilometres of their homes. Ditlev Engel, chief executive of Danish company Vestas, said he had "no idea" where the policy had come from. Mr Engel, who is visiting Victoria with Crown Prince Frederik and Tasmanian-born Crown Princess Mary, said no one had explained the motivation for Victoria's most restrictive regulations on turbines. In Denmark, when you have a wind turbine, in order to get approval, you need to be four times the height of the tip (away from a house). The tip height is 150-200 metres, so the distance from the turbine to where people live has got to be 600-800 metres. And that's fine."
The parts of Victoria that have the best wind resources are fairly populated by Australian rural standards. If anyone having a home within 2km of a proposed turbine can veto the construction of that turbine it will be very difficult to build any more wind farms in the state.
 
Wind turbine on Salt Creek Hill
Starfish Hill
One of the turbines of Starfish Hill Wind Farm

Reneging on election commitment

Energy Matters reported on 2012/03/28 that "The Victorian Government has reneged on election commitments of a 20% carbon emission reduction target and capping emissions from new coal fired power stations. The carbon emissions reduction target has been slashed from 20% to just 5%. The news comes just a week after The Age revealed the Baillieu government is preparing a campaign to promote development of Victoria's brown coal reserves." Victoria's brown coal, weight for weight, is some of the most polluting in Australia.

Liberal MP does about-face on wind power

Royce Miller wrote an article in The Age, 2012/02/22, about Victorian Liberal MP Simon Ramsey. Mr Miller wrote of Mr Ramsey:
"His campaign against the Mount Gellibrand wind farm has involved a remarkable personal shift – in the mid-2000s was a vocal champion of wind energy and obtained permits for turbines on a parcel of his own land, which he has since sold. His recent activism has included campaigning against turbines for which he previously held permits."
Mr Ramsay has been accused of misusing his position.

It seems to me that Mr Ramsay has been pressured by the Liberal hierachy, or directly by the fossil-fuel interests that seem to have so much power over the Liberal Party, to change his stance.

Where did the 'no-go zones' come from?

In an article in Yes2Renewables written by Cam Walker, Liberal MP Donna Petrovich, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Environment, is asked to explain the 'no-go zones' in which wind farms will not be allowed. Petrovich has said that the "No Go zones were carefully selected where communities 'on the whole have told us that they are not appreciative of wind farms'".

Cam Walker has asked Ms Petrovich to justify this claim, given the fact that surveys have shown a high level of popular acceptance for wind power. Ms Petrovich has not replied.

Ms Petrovich's email address is 'donna.petrovich@parliament.vic.gov.au'. I have asked her to justify her statement, and urge readers to do the same.

 
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Altered 2012/12/01

NSW

In November 2012 the NSW Government made the backward step of again allowing electric water heaters. Energy Minister Chris Hartcher had previously said "Electric water heating is the biggest energy user in NSW homes and can account for up to a third of your home's annual power bill." There are much better alternatives to electric water heating; solar water heating will pay for itself in a few years in most cases, but even gas is environmentally much better than electric and similarly priced.

 
Korean fan-death warning
Fan warning
NSW State Planning Minister Brad Hazzard told the Sydney Morning Herald on 2012/01/24: "The jury is still out on the health impacts from wind farms. When it comes to people's health I'll take a precautionary approach every time."

There is a belief in Korea that fans chop up oxygen molecules and can cause asphyxiation if used in a closed room. There is just as much scientifically credible evidence for this belief as there is for the "wind turbine causes sickness" belief – that is, absolutely none.

Will Minister Hazzard take a precautionary approach and ban fans?

This was printed in the Sydney Morning Herald on 2012/01/24:

"FEARS that wind turbines make people sick are ''not scientifically valid'', and the arguments mounted by anti-wind farm campaigners are unconvincing, according to confidential briefings given to the state government by NSW Health.

Documents obtained under freedom-of-information laws show that health officials repeatedly warned ministers last year that there was no evidence for ''wind turbine syndrome'', a collection of ailments including sleeplessness, headaches and high blood pressure that some people believe are caused by the noise of spinning blades.

But the department's advice contrasts with the view of the Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, who was responsible for draft guidelines, released in December, that significantly tighten the approvals process."

This information was brought to light by investigations carried out by Friends of the Earth, including particularly, Cam Walker.

 

Can we believe the NSW change of heart?

In September 2012 NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher said "Building a strong renewable energy industry is vital to supporting employment and helping grow the NSW economy". NSW now has a target of 20% renewable energy by 2020. (In 2011 about 8% of NSW's electricity was renewable, with most of that being hydro from the Snowy Mountains Scheme; NSW has been very slow in adopting wind power.)

 
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This sudden about-face is difficult to believe. It is significant that the target date is eight years away and no interim targets seem to have been set. The government has left itself the option of putting off most of the action four years or more. If they get re-elected they will be able to change their policy putting the target date further into the future.

NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard decided that he could ignore this information when he said "the jury is still out on the health impacts from wind farms". (Of course he also ignored the fact that wind turbines save lives by replacing coal-fired power generation which is a major producer of atmospheric pollution causing hundreds of deaths and thousands of serious diseases each year.)

For some of the submissions from people on the NSW guidelines see this Yes! to renewables page.

Brad Hazzard has said that the NSW guidelines are the "toughest wind farm guidelines in Australia and possibly the world". One would have to wonder why he made them so tough, unless he is against sustainable energy developments? And then, why is he against sustainable energy development unless he is looking after the interests of the fossil fuel industry?




 
Updated 2012/09/13

Queensland joins in

"Newly elected [Liberal-National] Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is expected to move quickly to disband the state's climate change and renewable energy programs". This is part of a post on REnew Economy written by Giles Parkinson on 2012/03/27, shortly after the election of the new Queensland government.

This would seem to confirm the premise of this page: that the Liberals do not want to do anything to reduce Australia's shameful rate of greenhouse gas production.

The previous Labor Government of Queensland suported a huge wind farm at Hughenden as part of a renewable energy initiative called the Copper String, but this is not suported by the new Liberal-National Government.

The Brisbane Times, 2012/06/08, reported that Environment Minister "Mr [Andrew] Powell repeated a statement he had made to ABC's Radio National that he was not convinced that humans were having an impact on climate change". Premier Campbell Newman described his minister's view as "refreshing".

ThinkProgress reported on 2012/07/18

"The latest snapshot on this inglorious race to the bottom came last week during the Queensland LNP [Liberal National Party] state conference with a motion proposed by the Noosa LNP member Richard Pearson. Pearson's motion called on the states education minister John-Paul Langbroek to "remove environmental propaganda material, in particular post-normal science about 'climate change', from the curriculum and as adjunct material at exam time". The motion was passed with party members overwhelmingly in favor.

More in September 2012

Giles Parkinson wrote a piece in ReNewEconomy on 2012/09/12 listing climate change and clean energy initiatives that Premier Campbell Newman announced were to be shut-down. They included:
"the Solar Flagships project ..., the Queensland Climate Change Fund, the Queensland Renewable Energy Fund, the Queensland Smart Energy Savings Fund, the Solar Initiatives Package, the Waste Avoidance and Resources Efficiency Fund, the Local Government Sustainable Future Fund and the Climate Smart Home Service. Other projects to be brought to an end are the Solar Hot Water Rebate Scheme, the Solar Atlas, the Cloncurry Solar Thermal Trial Site Remediation and a separate Solar PV Farm, the Bright Thing Campaign, the Renewable Energy Industry Development Plan, and Climate Smart Business Service. The Wide Bay Community Solar Farm has been deferred."
 
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Updated 2012/01/12

South Australia

 

Liberals have second thoughts?

The first flyer that I received on paper from Liberal Member for Stuart, Dan van holst Pellekaan's office (and downloaded from the Net) talked of a five kilometre ban from houses.

On 2012/01/06 I received a second flyer from Hendrik Gout at the office of David Ridgway, MLC, (Liberal) Leader of the Opposition in the SA Legislative Council. Mr Gout said that the original "was prepared specifically to a meeting held at Allendale" (where there is opposition to a proposed wind farm). The second flyer is similar to the original, except it says that the Liberals will ban a turbine from being built within 2km, rather than 5km, from a house, without the agreement of the owner, and 5km from a town. The lies and half-truths in the second flyer remain the same as in the first.

Rowan Ramsey, Liberal Member for Grey

Grey, Rowan Ramsey's electorate, contains many of South Australia's wind farms. You might expect that Rowan would praise the wind industry and the investment, jobs, employment and extra income it has brought to his electorate. No, he made a speech in Parliament throwing as much mud at the industry as he could dredge up.
In December 2011 the SA Liberal Party released a flyer running down wind farms and describing their stance on wind power. The publication contained several errors of fact and was so anti-renewables that it could have been written by someone in the fossil fuel industry (it certainly seems that it was written following consultation with the strongly anti-wind power Waubra Foundation, from whom the Liberals got most of the photos for the flyer.) Of greatest importance this first flyer promised that the Liberals would ban turbines from being built closer than five kilometres from homes without agreement from the home owner (the five kilometres was later changed to two kilometres – the whole thing indicated shoddy, biased and careless research).

Giving every home owner the right to veto any wind turbine within two kilometres of his or her home will make construction of wind farms in many areas in SA impractical.

Before 2003, when SA's first wind farm at Starfish Hill was built, SA had no wind power, but by 2011 SA was generating more than 20% of its electricity from clean, renewable, wind. This is a wonderful achievement, making SA a world leader in the fight against climate change, and all South Australian's should be proud of it.

Wind and hydro power are by a large margin the most viable forms of renewable energy available at present (the cost of solar is coming down, but an average utility scale wind turbine generates about 2000 times as much electricity as an average roof-top solar installation). Of course SA has negligible opportunity to develop hydro power, we have far too little rainfall for that. If the Liberals make wind power impractical they will greatly limit renewable power development in SA.

South Australia's best wind resources are mostly either on the coast or on ridge-tops within a hundred kilometres of the coast and it is not financially viable to build a wind farm a long distance from a power transmission line (which cost around a million dollars per kilometre to build).

The first anti-renewable energy flyer can be downloaded here.

Some lies and half-truths in the SA Liberal flyer
and the facts

Wind-generated power is not expensive

Contrary to the statement on the flyer, wind-generated power is the cheapest sustainable energy (with the possible exception of some hydro – which of course is not an option for SA) and is cheaper than fossil fuel electricity with carbon sequestration.

There is no evidence that wind farms lower property values.

In spite of a statement to the contrary in the flyer a number of studies have indicated that while property values might drop slightly during and shortly after wind farm construction, there is no long-term loss, and land that has turbines on it is, of course, more valuable because of its greatly increased earning potential. No credible study that I know of has shown a definite and significant decrease in land values near wind farms.

Wind farms are not noisy

 
Turbine loudness graphic
Image credit General Electric
In Australia wind turbines are very rarely as close as 300m to any houses
The flyer stated "The Clements [Gap] and Waterloo wind farms can be heard three kilometres away." This is probably true in some places at some times under ideal conditions. I live 15km from Clements Gap Wind Farm and have visited it many times. Several times I have stood on a side road 2.5km from the turbines and have just been able to hear them when there was no car traveling on the road within 2 km of me; any car nearer than that drowned-out the turbine sound. Also, turbines can only be heard at this distance in the right wind conditions; a strong wind makes so much noise in nearby vegetation that it also drowns-out the turbine sound. I have visited nearly all the wind farms in SA and Victoria, and several of those in WA; I have never heard a turbine from a distance greater than 2.5km (correction, on 2013/07/07 I managed to just hear some turbines 3.0km away).

 
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Surf on a beach and traffic on a highway can be heard 5km away, thunder even further; as with wind turbines it is the lower frequencies in the sound that travel so far. Most people are not annoyed by this sort of sound.

Wind farms do not cause ill-health

The flyer stated:
"Many people report sleep disruption and nausea. Peer-reviewed studies show those living over a kilometre from industrial wind turbines suffered sleep disruption so severe it affected their daytime functioning and mental health."
 
Professor Simon Chapman, School of Public Health and Teresa Simonetti, Sydney University Medical School, compiled an extensive list of the main conclusions reached in 17 reviews of the research literature on wind farms and health; all showed no direct link between ill-health and wind turbines.
These are half-truths at best (I haven't come across any peer-reviewed papers published in respectable journals that said any such thing). Far more people who live within a few kilometres of turbines are not bothered by them; see Wind farms and health. The Liberals did not comment on all the research that shows no harm from wind turbines other than annoyance and some loss of sleep when turbines are poorly sighted. The pollutants from burning fossil fuels are incomparably more damaging to human, animal and environmental health than are wind farms; the Liberals neglected to make this point.

Fire

Wind turbines are much less of a fire hazard than farm machinery. The worst that has happened in Australia is a few spot fires that were started from a turbine fire at Cathedral Rocks in 2009, but little bush was burned and there was no damage to infrastructure other than the turbine itself. Of course the flyer did not say that a row of wind turbines along the top of a ridge will reduce fires caused by lightning-strike because they conduct the lightning safely to earth.

 
Wind turbine at sunrise
Canunda sunrise
Canunda, near Millicent in SE SA

Contrary to the tenor of the Liberal flyer, wind farms are popular with most rural people

A minority of people oppose wind farms, but many welcome the jobs, extra farm income, additional business oportunities and investment.

The Central Western Daily (Orange) reported on 2011/12/05 that Blayney mayor Bruce Kingham stated that "In the 11 years since the [Blayney] wind farm [was built], we have had not one complaint"

Recent opinion surveys conducted by Pacific Hydro and the CSIRO both showed strong support for wind power.

What the flyer doesn't say

SA's wind farms produce around 26% of SA's electricity (in 2011) with a similar reduction in the amount of greenhouse gasses due to electrical generation. This is in spite of increasing electricity consumption, so wind power is a very effective source of renewable energy.

The construction of wind farms is a great boost to regional businesses and employment. The continuing payments to farmers and maintenance workers during the 20-25 year life of the wind farms is a long-term benefit to regional economies. Many wind farm companies also make substantial regular donations to community funds.

Another lie

The flyer claims that "Labor is planning to approve more and more wind farms closer and closer to homes, villages and schools" (emphasis mine). I am no fan of Labor, but I've been studying wind farms in Australia for a number of years and I have seen no evidence of this.
 
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Isobel Redmond digs herself a hole

Isobel Redmond (one time leader of the Liberal Opposition in South Australia) has said that wind and solar power were a major cause of rising electricity prices in South Australia. That this is a lie is shown by a recent report by the Australian Energy Market Commission which states that costs related to power distribution accounted for 40% and wholesale component factors accounted for another 35% of price increases in SA. The report also stated that Australia-wide costs related to the renewable energy target contributed only 3% to electricity price rises. (See Are wind farms the cause of rising electricity prices? for more information.)

 

Liberals thinking of country people?

The December 2011 Liberal flyer on wind power tried to give the impression that the Libs were thinking of the rights of country people. If you have a look at Isobel Redmond's contact page you will see that she thinks so much about country South Australians that she is under the impression that they all live in suburbs! (She may have it changed after she reads this. Written 2012/01/24.)
On 2011/09/27 I inquired of Isobel Redmond's intentions in regard to wind power should the Liberals win the next election. The reply I had from her office (Kasia Jaruzelski) was: "I can assure you that the Liberal Party have always believed that renewable resources have a place in the generation of our electricity and should be bought on line where feasible." Judge this statement in the light of the SA Liberal wind farm policy made public in December 2011.

Also Ms Redmond was reported by Adelaide Now to have said on 2012/01/21, "[Wind power is] probably the least efficient and most unreliable of all the green energy sources".

What could she mean by 'least efficient'?

Efficiency in a fossil-fuelled power station, such as those that the Liberals seem so keen on supporting, is very important. Every tonne of coal that is burned causes around three tonnes of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere; so it is vitally important to squeeze every Joule of useful energy out of that tonne of coal.

But how does it apply to the wind? How would you meaningfully measure the efficiency of a wind turbine? If less than all the wind power available to the turbine is converted to electricity, does it matter? What harm is done?

Some wind farm opponents confuse efficiency with capacity factor. The capacity factor of Australian wind turbines averages out at 34%, which means that for every 10 mega-Watts of installed capacity we get an average of 3.4 MW of electricity. The capacity factor of solar photovoltaics in SA is around 18%.

What could she mean by 'most unreliable'?

 

Wind turbines are 99% reliable

"The term reliability is generally used in energy policy circles as 'a measure of how long a period of time occurs between failures of the machine or how long those failures last'. Wind turbines are extremely reliable. They generally have reliability ratings of 99 per cent or more." (From The Australia Institute, Wind Farms: The facts and the fallacies.)
Wind turbines are highly reliable, more so than the coal-fired generators or nuclear power stations that Ms Redmond seems to prefer. Yes, the wind is variable, but it is predictable, and since the whole of south-eastern Australia uses a common electricity grid, a lull in the wind at one wind farm has very little effect on the whole grid. The variation in wind generation as a whole is slow and gradual so it is easy for other generators to make up any short-fall.

By making such obviously ill-informed statements Ms Redmond is probably doing more harm to the Liberals and herself than she is to the renewable energy industry.

On 2012/01/24 I offered to sit down and talk to Ms Redmond about the facts of wind power; as of late February I had not received any reply to my email.
 
Brown Hill Range turbines
Early morning turbines
Wind turbines in early morning sunlight

David Ridgway, SA Shadow Minister for Urban Development and Planning joins in

(Mr Ridgway now has a page of his own on this site.)

An acquaintance sent me a letter she had received from Mr Ridgway. Among a number of dubious anti-renewable energy statements he said "Homes and properties are often devalued when turbines are close and in line-of-site". There is no credible evidence for this statement, the best surveys have suggested no decrease in property values except for a short period around the time that the wind farm was established.

Like so many anti-wind power people, Mr Ridgway made the point that wind turbines do not operate all the time and therefore conventional power stations must be available to fill in. In this he conveniently forgot that all major power generators are off line some of the time, either for maintenance or from breakdown. Fossil fuel generators are typically available only 85% of the time. Other generators must be available to fill these gaps too.

Both coal-fired and nuclear power stations are inflexible in generation, they do not easily respond to varying demand on the grid. Gas and oil-fired generators can be flexible, but are expensive to operate.

 
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Poor research

 
My photo used by the Liberals
Prototype turbine at Snowtown
Construction of prototype turbine at Snowtown
 

Misleading information on photo

The caption under my photo used in the Liberal's brochure read "Construction of the Snowtown wind farm in South Australia's mid north dwarfs the house in the foreground, demonstrating how close to residents the Government is willing to build wind turbines. Photograph taken by Dave Clarke, February 19th 2011."

The turbine is about 1.8km from the house, making a lie of the statement in the brochure.

As stated elsewhere on this page the 2km exclusion zone around homes that was put into law in Victoria and NSW, and is favoured by the SA Liberal Opposition, makes no sense at all except as a way of greatly limiting the growth of sustainable energy in Australia. So far as I know, no other country in the world has such a law. Country people's quality of life should be protected, but this can be done, should be done and has been done by legislating on maximum sound levels rather than being based on an arbitrary distance.

The fact that the people who put the SA Liberal Party flyers together made so many errors, got most of their photos from the stridently anti-renewable energy Waubra Foundation and one of mine (without asking permission), and first said that they were going to enforce a 5km exclusion zone around houses and later changed that to 2km, suggests something thrown together with very little research, objectivity, competence, diligence or care; not to mention low ethical standards.

Contrary to the tenor of the Liberal flyer, wind power development has been a great success in SA, it generates about 25% of SA's power and has substantially reduced power imports from the eastern states and, very importantly, lowered greenhouse gas emissions from power generation.

The flyers give the impression that wind power is unpopular in rural districts. As shown by the Pacific Hydro survey released in early 2012, the great majority of country people are actually strongly in favour of wind power. A few days before the Pac. Hydro report, CSIRO released a report, "Acceptance of Rural Windfarms in Australia: a snapshot". Some of its key findings were:

  • There is strong community support for wind farms;
  • There is more support than suggested by media reports;
  • Wind farmers might improve acceptance by developing a 'Social licence to Operate' approach.
 
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Wind farms are popular in Australia

While the Liberals are doing all they can to support the fossil fuel industry and discredit renewable energy, the Australian people generally want renewables. There is a huge amount of evidence that burning fossil fuels cause health problems, but no-one with any credibility believes that wind farms do: see Australian Medical Association, Doctors for the Environment Australia, Climate and Health Alliance.

In 2010 the NSW Government surveyed Community attitudes to wind farms and renewable energy in NSW; 81% of the people surveyed saw wind as an acceptable energy source, more than any other energy source other than solar.

 
Wattle Point turbines
Turbines through mist
Turbines through mist; early morning
Australians want action on climate change and it is only a small minority of country people who oppose them, mainly on the NIMBY (not in my back yard) principal.

Pacific Hydro and CSIRO reports released in 2012

In November 2011 Pacific Hydro surveyed attitudes to wind energy in ten communities across Victoria, NSW and SA where wind farms were operating or proposed. The main result was 83% support, 14% opposed, 3% undecided.

The CSIRO report "Acceptance of Rural Windfarms in Australia: a snapshot"; found that there is strong community support for wind farms (contrary to the impression given by the popular media) and discussed ways of increasing this further.

Opinion Survey by Australian Wind Energy Association

The following was extracted from a Summary of Opinion Surveys on Wind Power conducted by the European Wind Energy Association:
"The Australian Wind Energy Association commissioned a telephone survey in August 2003 covering 1,027 people. 94% of respondents thought that a target to increase the contribution of clean energy from renewable resources was a good (32%) or very good idea (62%). Less than 3% considered the current target to be too high or much too high. 88% said they wanted the government to increase support to the renewable energy sector, compared to 26% wanting an increase in support for the fossil fuel sector. 95% supported (27%) or strongly supported (68%) building wind farms to meet Australia's rapidly increasing demand for electricity. 91% agreed it was more important to build wind farms for electricity than avoid building them in rural Australia. For 71% of respondents, reducing greenhouse pollution outweighed protecting industries that rely on reserves of fossil fuel."

Once the Liberal Party's agenda to destroy the Australian wind industry becomes widely known it will backfire on the Liberals.
 
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What's wrong with a 2km limit?

 
In Denmark, the country with the most wind power per capita, the minimum distance between a wind turbine and a house must be four times the total height of the turbine (including blades). A typical maximum height is around 125m (in 2012), so under this rule turbines would not be allowed closer than 500m to a house.
The Canadians are considering national guidelines on wind turbine spacing; 550m looks likely as the recommended minimum distance between turbines and houses (January 2012).
Many people in Australia and around the world happily live closer to wind turbines than 2km. Wind farm operators must conform to sound level limits at homes pre-dating wind farm construction and that is as it should be, but to give to the home owner the power of vetoing any turbine within 2km of any house is unjustified by the evidence and will cripple future development of wind power in Australia.

There are already many constraints on where wind turbines can be built:

  • They must be in a place that has a good wind resource; this often means that they need to be on ridge lines or near the coast;
  • They must be reasonably close to a high voltage power transmission line with sufficient reserve capacity to take the power from the wind farm;
  • They should be reasonably close to a number of other turbines to minimise the length of roads and power cables etc;
  • Their location must not be where there is high conservation-value native vegetation;
  • National and conservation parks cannot be used;
  • Areas that have more than a few scattered houses are not practicable.
 
Setbacks between wind turbines and houses internationally
Setbacks between turbines and houses
Image credit: Minnesota Dept. Commerce and Katheryn M. B. Haugen
Imagine a proposed wind farm where there are houses scattered about three of four kilometres apart; a situation not uncommon in rural areas. If each of those houses has a 2km radius around it – an area of about 13 square kilometres – in which no turbine can be built, a proposed wind farm will likely become unviable.

Most current wind farms have their turbines no closer than one kilometre from homes; that means an exclusion zone of about three square kilometres for each house.

A study of Wind Turbine Setbacks from Residences for the Minnesota Department of Commerce by Katheryn M. B. Haugen, 2011/10/19, showed that in most parts of the world mandated setbacks between wind turbines and homes is 500m or 1km. A figure in this study (Figure 2, page 26; graph on the right) showed no jurisdiction that mandated a setback as great as the 2kms mandated by several Australian State governments. (Scotland mandates a distance of 2km from towns.)

It seems that the 2km setback in parts of Austalia is much more aimed at slowing or stopping the development of renewable energy in Australia than protecting people.

The Victorian rule of 5km from towns is plainly very much out of step with international standards.

 
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Institute of Public Affairs

It seems that the IPA is too right wing and too opposed to climate science for big donors like Shell and ExxonMobil, but still supported by the Liberals.

Ben Schneiders and Royce Millar wrote an article in the Sydney Morning Herald:

"Some of the world's largest companies have dropped financial support and membership of free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, amid concern at its vociferous campaign against action on climate change.

Petroleum giants ExxonMobil and Shell and large miners are among the multinationals that have confirmed leaving the Liberal-linked institute, led by party member John Roskam, who this year was praised by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Despite the loss of corporate support, Fairfax Media can reveal the institute is now Australia's wealthiest private think tank after a surge in donations and fund-raising from individuals who helped it double its revenue in just four years."
The article also stated that the IPA is pushing for the privitisation of the ABC.

More quotes from the SMH article:

Former prime minister John Howard said the institute was an important influence on the Liberal Party, saying it "contributes very strongly to the intellectual debate on issues and that in turn has an impact on what attitude the Liberal Party takes."

British Tobacco has confirmed it is a financial member. Mining magnate Gina Rinehart is a major supporter. Rupert Murdoch has been a financial backer and an active member in the past. However, Mr Murdoch's News Corp confirmed the company is not a member.

In a survey of 20 big companies, only British American Tobacco publicly confirmed membership. The institute has been a vocal critic of increased regulation of tobacco. Philip Morris refused to confirm or deny membership.
Also see SourceWatch.
 
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Abbott's climate change policy is bullshit – by Malcolm Turnbull

The following was published on-line by the Sydney Morning Herrald on 2009/12/07; it is still true.
 

Honest politicians?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if members of the big parties spoke like this consistently; saying what they believe with honesty and conviction, rather than sticking to 'the party line', even when they believe it to be 'bullshit'?
"While a shadow minister, Tony Abbott, was never afraid of speaking bluntly in a manner that was at odds with Coalition policy. So as I am a humble backbencher I am sure he won't complain if I tell a few home truths about the farce that the Coalition's policy, of lack of policy, on climate change has descended into.

First, lets get this straight. You cannot cut emissions without a cost. To replace dirty coal fired power stations with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money. To get farmers to change the way they manage their land, or plant trees and vegetation all costs money. Somebody has to pay. So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott, "bullshit." Moreover he knows it.

The whole argument for an emissions trading scheme [ETS] as opposed to cutting emissions via a carbon tax or simply by regulation is that it is cheaper - in other words electricity prices will rise by less to achieve the same level of emission reductions. The term you will see used for this is "least cost abatement". It is not possible to criticise the new Coalition policy on climate change because it does not exist. Mr Abbott apparently knows what he is against, but not what he is for.

Second, as we are being blunt, the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion "climate change is crap" or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, its cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.

Now politics is about conviction and a commitment to carry out those convictions. The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is "crap" and you don't need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing. After all, as Nick Minchin observed, in his view the majority of the Party Room do not believe in human caused global warming at all. I disagree with that assessment, but many people in the community will be excused for thinking the leadership ballot proved him right. Remember Nick Minchin's defense of the Howard Government's ETS was that the Government was panicked by the polls and therefore didn't really mean it.

Tony himself has in just four or five months publicly advocated the blocking of the ETS, the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS and if the amendments were satisfactory passing it, and now the blocking of it. His only redeeming virtue in this remarkable lack of conviction is that every time he announced a new position to me he would preface it with "Mate, mate, I know I am a bit of a weather vane on this, but....."

Third, there is a major issue of integrity at stake here and Liberals should reflect very deeply on it. We have an Opposition whose current leadership dismisses the Howard Government's ETS policy as being just a political ploy. We have an Opposition Leader who has in the space of a few months held every possible position on the issue, each one contradicting the position he expressed earlier.

And finally we have an Opposition which negotiated amendments to the Rudd Government's ETS, then reached agreement on those amendments and then, a week later, reneged on the agreement.

Many Liberals are rightly dismayed that on this vital issue of climate change we are not simply without a policy, without any prospect of having a credible policy but we are now without integrity. We have given our opponents the irrefutable, undeniable evidence that we cannot be trusted."

Not that anyone would doubt it, but I will be voting for the ETS legislation when it returns in February and if my colleagues have any sense they will do so as well."
 
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Joe Hockey; "utterly offensive"

It seems that our Treasurer prefers the look of coal mines to wind farms.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
Wind VS coal

 

Treasurer for sale

Is it surprising that Mr Hockey is looking after the obscenely wealthy fossil fuel industry?

Sean Ncholls wrote an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. A quote:

"Treasurer Joe Hockey is offering privileged access to a select group including business people and industry lobbyists in return for tens of thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal Party via a secretive fund-raising body whose activities are not fully disclosed to election funding authorities."
 

More on Treasurer for sale: 2014/05/05

Mr Hockey has instructed a law firm to pursue the SMH over this matter. No doubt it will be the tax payers and not Mr Hockey who will be paying the legal bills.
In a late April 2014 interview with Alan Jones, radio shock-jock, climate science denier and wind power critic on 2GB federal Treasurer Joe Hockey said:
"I drive to Canberra to go to parliament and I must say I find those wind turbines around Lake George to be utterly offensive. I think they're a blight on the landscape."
This was reported on The Guardian and elsewhere.

It would seem that Treasurer Hockey's aesthetic tastes differ from those of most of us. How many Australians would prefer to look at a coal mine rather than a wind farm? I'm sure there would be very few. How many would rather live near a coal mine than a wind farm? Perhaps Joe should ask the people of the Latrobe Valley where there was a recent coal mine fire that caused huge air pollution problems?

From this, and other comments that Mr Hockey made to Jones, it looks like the Australian Treasurer is preparing to reduce government support for renewables in favour of the highly influential and filthy rich fossil fuel industry.

We can expect little climate change action from this government. One can only conclude that the Abbott Government is at the bec and call of the fossil fuel industry.

 
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Ethics

As mentioned above, Australia ranks 53rd in the world in population, but sixth in the world in the CO2 produced by its electricity industry; it has 0.3% of the world's population, but produces 1.5% of the world's greenhouse gasses; it is well up among the worst greenhouse polluters on the planet.

 
Wind farms improve health by replacing polluting coal-burning power stations that have very serious, and proven, effects on health. By opposing wind power and favouring fossil fuels the Liberals are causing more illness from fossil-fuel pollutants in Australia.
All Australians, but especially those who lead Australians, have an ethical responsibility to reduce the harm we are doing to the planet. I find it shocking that one of the major Australian political parties could be so entirely lacking in ethical standards as are the Liberal Party.

Climate change and ocean acidification, both largely caused by greenhouse gasses, are, or will be, the greatest disasters in the history of humanity. They will result in the displacement and possibly the deaths of hundreds of millions or billions of people and the extinction of thousands or even millions of species.

The Liberals in Australia and the Republicans in the USA are setting an example to the rest of the world. The USA and Australia are, per capita, the worst greenhouse polluters among the OECD nations. If the USA and Australia does nothing toward decreasing our huge contribution toward causing climate change, what sort of message does that send to the rest of the world?

For the Liberals to, not just fail to take positive action toward reducing fossil fuel use, but to actively campaign against sustainable energy, is a crime against humanity and the biosphere that would have to rank as worse than anything the generals have done in Burma, Sadam Husein in Iraq, or Assad in Syria.

 
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Socrates and Bruce: a bit of satire

Socrates was forced to take poison after being convicted of 'corrupting the youth of Athens'. His real crime was in asking too many embarrassing questions. If Socrates was alive today in Australia perhaps we might hear a conversation such as this. Socrates is talking to Bruce, who has political ambitions.

Socrates: "Bruce, ever since I was brought back from the dead I've been hearing about a thing called climate change. Some people seem to think it's quite serious. What do you think about it?"

Bruce: "Well Socs, when I read about it in the daily Murdoch I find that everyone is quite unsure that it is real. Rupert tells me that even the scientists are quite unconvinced. Alan Jones says the same thing. Surely they couldn't both be wrong? These are very wise men, great philosophers."

Socrates turns to Bert. (We brought Socrates back to life after more than two thousand years, bringing Bertrand Russell back after just a few decades was a walk in the park by comparison.) "Bert, you are a bit more up to date on these things than I am, what do you think about science and our craft, philosophy?"

Bert: "It seems to me that science has a much greater likelihood of being true in the main than any philosophy hitherto advanced (I do not, of course, except my own, or even yours Socs, or Alan's, Rupert's or Bruce's). In science there are many matters about which people are agreed; in philosophy there are none. Therefore, although each proposition in science may be false, yet we shall be wise to build our philosophy upon science, because the risk of error in philosophy is sure to be greater than in science. If we could hope for certainty in philosophy the matter would be otherwise, but so far as I can see such a hope would be chimerical. Bruce, I think you really need to listen to what the climate scientists themselves are saying, rather than listening to what Rupert says they are saying, and even Alan has been wrong sometimes." [My apologies to Bert there, for taking some liberties.]

Socrates: "So Bruce, the country that you hope to lead is, I read, one of the worst of the culprits in producing the greenhouse gasses that are causing climate change. Do you think that Australia and Australians have some responsibility to take serious action, just in case Rupert might be wrong and the climate scientists right?"

Bruce: "Well, you know, Australia only produces 1.5% of the world's greenhouse gasses. Even if we were to change to 100% renewable energy we'd have very little effect on the world."

Socrates: "You are quite right there Bruce. But I wonder, do you think there might be another way of looking at that question? Yes, Australia does only produce 1.5% of the greenhouse gasses, but then Australia has only 0.3% of the world's population. Another way of looking at it is that Australia ranks 53rd in the world in population, but sixth in the world in the CO2 produced by its electricity industry."

Bruce: "I don't quite follow Socs, what are you driving at?"

Socrates: "Well look at it this way Bruce. If I was driving one of those motor cars that you modern people have developed and I wanted to dispose of a copy of The Australian that I had finished with, do you think it would be acceptable for me to throw it out of the car window? After all, I'd only be adding a negligible amount to the total of all the litter on the roadsides. If I refrain from throwing litter out of my car window I would have a negligible effect on the total out there."

Bruce: "Ah, but that's quite different Socs. It is not going to cost you anything to keep your daily Murdoch in the car and dispose of it properly when you get to a bin. If, when I'm running the country, I was to continue to tax the polluters it would cost jobs and the punters would have to pay more for their electricity."

Socrates: "Are you sure of that Bruce? Any government relies on taxes. I suppose you are going to continue to tax companies, personal incomes, and motor fuels? Why not tax carbon too? You could make it revenue-neutral if you wanted; reduce some other taxes to compensate for the new tax money that you would be getting from the polluters? There are jobs in renewable energy too aren't there? And I read that renewables are actually forcing the wholesale electricity prices down."

Bruce: "Yeah but, no but, yeah but, the big polluters donate lots of dosh to our campaign funds. (They donate to the other lot too, I keep on telling them that we'll look after them better than Labor will, but they insist on hedging their bets.) We have a moral responsibility to look after the people who look after us, don't we? And then what about all the money that comes into the country from mining and exporting coal. If we, by taxing coal, show that we think it's on the nose, what message is that giving to all the people who buy our coal? They might think that they shouldn't be burning it either, and that would hurt our economy; and there's nothing more important than the economy."

Socrates: "Bruce; what do you think about our responsibility to future generations? Do you think that the people who are running the world today have an obligation to think of the world that they will be handing on to their children and grandchildren? If the climate scientists are right and Rupert and Alan are wrong, as unlikely as that may seem to you, do you think we should make an effort to look after the planet in the longer term?"

[Reader, I leave it to you to fill in what you think Bruce will answer to this question.]

 
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Links

 
Also see general wind power links, wind power and health links and wind power problems, alleged problems and objection links.
Four Corners program by Janine Cohen on the Greenhouse Mafia and its influence on the Federal Liberals.

Not a level playing field for wind power, written by Neil Perry, research lecturer at Uni. Western Sydney, criticizes the unjustifiably harsh treatment of wind power by Australia's Liberals.

Sandi Keane writing in Independent Australia on:

Article by Simon Copland on the ABC's The Drum exposing the Coalitions 'war against renewable energy' and discussing its anti-business aspects.

Is Nuclear Power Globally Scalable?, (by Derek Abbott, School of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, University of Adelaide) provides a convincing argument that nuclear power cannot replace fossil fuels as mankind's main source of energy.

Article by Emeritus Prof. David Shearman and Ass. Prof. Linda Selvey in The Conversation asking why there is so little governmental concern about proven health problems from fossil fuel pollution while some states are hard on wind farms that have no known health problems.






Index

On this page...
Abbott no judge of talent"
Can we believe the NSW change of heart?
Carbon tax affecting emissions
Climate change policy BS
David Ridgway
Ethics
Even the USA is acting
Institute of Public Affairs
Interpretation
Introduction
Isobel digs a hole
Joe Hockey; "utterly offensive"
Libel?
Liberal flyer on wind power in SA
Liberal party opposed to climate change action
Lies and half-truths
Links
Mr 9-in-1
NSW
Poor research
Queensland joins in
South Australia
SA Senator Sean Edwards
Socrates and Bruce
Who accepts the facts?
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Victorian
What's wrong with a 2km limit?
What is the science telling us?
Wind farms are popular
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