Inquiry calls for new wind farm rules

04 Aug, 2015 05:26 AM
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It also wants changes made to the renewable energy target to cut back subsidies for projects.

THE Abbott government should draw up national rules restricting how wind farms are built and operated and punish states that do not accept them, a Senate committee has urged.

In its final report published on Monday evening, the committee puts forward a range a measures to curb wind farms, including recommendations to reduce support for projects under the national renewable energy target.

The inquiry's recommendations were backed by government and crossbench senators on the committee. But Labor members wrote a dissenting report rejecting the proposals as expensive, duplicative and unworkable.

The report comes at a sensitive time for the Australian wind industry, which has seen investment dry up over the past 18 months on the back of uncertainty surrounding government support.

In particular the industry points to the protracted push by the Abbott government to reduce the national renewable energy target, a push which was ultimately successful. The government has also directed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to invest in wind farms.

The majority report said the committee believed the science on wind farms and human health problems was "evolving". It is critical of past reviews by the National Health and Medical Research Council which found no reliable evidence connecting wind turbines with health problems.

Amid the recommendations it is proposed that an independent scientific panel be established, which would have the power to block new projects being registered by the government if it believed human health was at risk.

The panel would also help draw up "national wind farm guidelines", which the federal government would introduce and ask state governments to adopt.

Those guidelines would include national standards on wind farms for infrasound, vibrations, aircraft safety, indigenous heritage, birds and bats, shadow flicker, fire risk, electromagnetic interference and blade glint, among other things.

If a state government did not accept a new national measure for infrasound and low-frequency noise, the committee recommends that wind projects built in those states should not get renewable energy certificates under the national target, which are used to help subsidise new wind farms.

The committee also wants changes made to the renewable energy target to cut back subsidies for projects.

It recommends projects only be granted five years of renewable energy certificates, significantly less than an operator would currently get. But the committee also wants the government to draw up rules allowing renewable energy projects to qualify for carbon credits.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the government had no plans to make further changes to the renewable energy target, effectively ruling out the inquiry's recommendations to reduce certificates and block them in states that don't comply with new national rules.

But the government has previously agreed with crossbench senators to establish a wind farm commissioner and a scientific panel, and to promote national guidelines with states, echoing some of the report's recommendations.

National wind farm guidelines were discussed at a meeting of national environment ministers last month, but the concept was rejected by a number of state governments at the meeting.

The committee also proposes an investigation of the power price impact of wind farms.

The inquiry was led by Senator David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrat Party and independent senator John Madigan.

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READER COMMENTS

daw
4/08/2015 8:05:50 AM

ALL SUBSIDIES SHOULD CEASE! They are misuse of taxpayers money. Development of new technologies should only be supported with taxpayers $ by Govt investment in them so if they prove successful the government ( on behalf of the taxpayer) will share in the returns. If the technology proves to be successful the government of the day will have a saleable asset or a source of income other than additional taxes.
lin
4/08/2015 10:00:23 AM

At long last the rest of mainstream media is listening. So who are the 'lat earthers' in the room now? Denials of windfarm noise from mainstream papers only can last so long. thank you The Land for opening up to the cries of rural folk.
Solarone
4/08/2015 10:27:27 AM

Every recommendation by the Senate Committee should be adopted. These Senators were able to ascertain first hand by personally interviewing people suffering the devastating health impacts. The Vic premier Andrews has been invited on may occasions to take his family to reside beside operating turbines, but he does not have the intestinal fortitude to do so. Instead he is just forging ahead with his life, health and environment destroying ideals to ensure that Victoria becomes an industrial wasteland.
JA R
4/08/2015 10:45:59 AM

National Guidelines in Planning and Noise. So State no longer have to compete for projects. Independent Health research will ensure people are safe, surely worth supporting. Industry will need to pay a levy to reduce cost to the public purse in overseeing regulations. They receive RECs for 5 yrs only after all its an established industry, but only if they meet clearly defined standards - Reasonable surely. The committee has delivered for everyone and industry will have certainty they asked for. Will they complain - yes - as they will loose control over planning and regulating themselves.
Basil
4/08/2015 10:50:27 AM

Nothing surprising in this report It is what you would expect from this committee in which 5 of the 6 members were known to be anti-wind farms at the start . Only 1 was from Labor or the Greens.
Steve
4/08/2015 3:12:32 PM

The fact that they are not built in the cities is proof enough that they cause harm. Shut them all down and immediately stop any more from being built, even those that are approved but haven't been constructed yet. They destroy communities for the good of a few and their foreign owners. I cannot wait to retire and buy a house next door to those responsible for the towers in my area, they will know first hand what bad neighbours can do to your property values. Build them in city parks and gardens if they are so good.
Mabel Peyton-Smyth
5/08/2015 6:58:36 AM

The damage caused by inaudible noise from wind turbines will be the asbestos problem of the future Just wait.
Mike
6/08/2015 12:59:06 PM

Attributing "devastating health impacts" to wind farms, and likening their impacts to that of asbestos is just ridiculous. What'll it be next, the impacts of daylight savings?
the kid
6/08/2015 4:06:07 PM

Damage by wind turbines - A complete load of tosh!!! Europe and the states have had them everywhere for 30 years and the only health issues are with people who never got a payout by the turbine companies. Any one who has them on their properties doesn't seem to get sick! I also live within 1.5kms of a wind farm and since moving there my headaches have gone - no-one wants to know that! I think anyone who complains of wind farms should go and live next to a coal fired power station please!
blackbasalt
7/08/2015 5:24:21 AM

Steve, there was one on the outskirts of Newcastle for close to 20 years, thousands of people within a 5km radius. Health complaints? Zero. In Europe there's thousands of towers even closer to towns. Europeans seem not to have a problem. The lack of wind farms in cities has more to do with the cost of real estate and lack of suitably windy sites.

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