Coalition pushes new Senate Inquiry in bid to stop wind

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Having lost the battle on health, the anti-wind brigade wants another Senate Inquiry, this time into wind’s effect on emissions, power prices and fauna.

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If Australia’s wind energy industry was not struggling enough under the weight of policy uncertainty created by the Abbott government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target, this week’s call for yet another Senate inquiry into the impact of wind turbines should just about do the job.

On Monday, a group of federal senators – including David Lleyonhjelm (Lib), Nick Xenophon (Ind), John Madigan (DLP) and Family First’s Bob Day – moved to back the establishment of a Select Committee on Wind Turbines to inquire into their economic and environmental impact and report back by June 24, 2015.

The proposed inquiry would give the six-member committee a wide scope of reference, with a particular focus on the effect of wind turbines on household power prices, emissions, the implementation of planning processes and nearby fauna.

The motion will be voted on next Monday, and looks likely to pass with the added support of some of the Senate’s newer and more impressionable members.

According to The Guardian, it will have the support of The Motorists Party’s Ricky Muir, who ostensibly is a supporter of renewables and has previously promised to oppose any changes to the 41,000GWh target.

The Coalition government, which wants to cut the RET by more than half (in new projects out to 2020), mostly in a bid to curb the development of wind farms, which Treasurer Joe Hockey finds “utterly offensive”, will undoubtedly support the idea.

Not surprisingly, the move has been slammed by the Australian Wind Alliance, which described it on Tuesday as part of a renewable energy “witch hunt” that threatens billions of dollars worth of wind industry jobs and investment.

“Just today a new Climate Council report found that Victoria has already lost an estimated $4 billion in lost investment and 3,000 jobs due to restrictive wind farm planning laws,” said AWA national coordinator Andrew Bray.

“The Select Committee should be finding ways to increase investment in our rural and regional communities instead of bowing to pressure from anti-wind farm activists.

“There is no scientific basis for these ongoing attacks on wind power,” he said. “This inquiry would look a lot less like a witch hunt if it asked the same questions of coal mining or coal seam gas.”anti-wind2

Bray said that the issues up for discussion by the proposed new Senate Committee had been answered “many times over” and that “rehearsing the same old arguments” would be a complete waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

Indeed, this is well trod ground for the federal Senate. In February 2013, it voted down, for the second time, a motion by Senators Xenophon and Madigan to introduce their Excessive Noise from Wind Farms Bill.

In the session preceding the vote, Senator Madigan called for “independent, eminent,” rigorous and home-grown research into the health effects caused by wind farms that he said had been “belittled, mocked and ignored,” despite having been “proved”.

Far from being proved, however, a growing pile of scientifically backed studies – including from the AMA, the NSW government’s health department and one from Victoria’s – have found no evidence for ”wind turbine syndrome”, a collection of physical and psychological symptoms including sleeplessness, headaches and high blood pressure that some people believe are caused by the noise of spinning blades.

One of the most recent – the findings of a draft systematic review of the evidence on wind farms and human health by the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) – found that there was no reliable or consistent evidence that proximity to wind farms or wind farm noise directly caused health effects.

As noted here back in February, the NHMRC report marked number 20 in the list of reviews published on the issue since 2003 – all of which reached the same broad conclusions.

And as recently as this month, in northern America, a Health Canada study also found no direct link between turbines and the wellbeing of nearby residents, beyond adverse health effects connected to high levels of “annoyance.”

Seemingly undaunted, however, the forces behind the newly proposed Senate Inquiry have found new Conservative bugbears to pursue; including the effect of wind energy on power prices, and the oft-spouted myth that wind farms don’t reduce emissions.

“Politicians have faced ongoing pressure from fringe groups threatening jobs and investment in regional areas,” Bray said on Tuesday. “We should be encouraging investment in renewable energy not finding new ways to destroy it.

“Wind farms are a viable and reliable source of income for rural and regional communities.”

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21 Comments
  1. Keith 4 years ago

    I guess I interpret this as further evidence of determination by the LNP to lose the next election.

    Maybe they are scared we have forgotten that they are the tea party? Given the uncompromising announcements at G20 last week, if this goes through it will just reemphasise how nutty Australia’s leaders are…. shades of the demo last week with people at Bondi with their heads in the sand.

  2. Rob G 4 years ago

    More coalition time wasting… This tired old argument died a long time ago. Xenophon ought to know better as a progressive politician.

  3. Liza Neil 4 years ago

    For goodness sakes! Why don’t they just say they look like crosses and are therefore disrespectful to Christians and the KKK? When will this madness end?

  4. Chris Fraser 4 years ago

    The creation of a ‘Select Committee’ does appear to be some perverse invitation to stack it with industry ‘friends’ and some pre-ordained outcome. Since the Warburton nightmare/circus, is it even possible to alert these otherwise intelligent people that the Committee only has legitimacy in the eyes of the public if there are reasonable agreed methods of appointing them ? I am worried some preferred members would be chosen more for their ‘creative rationalisation’ than their objectivity.

  5. john 4 years ago

    Seems a bit strange that these non ALP non LIB non Nat non LNP senators are pushing for this inquiry.
    The NIMBY tradition in full swing who knows.
    The southern coast line of Australia is blessed with very good wind resources.
    No doubt the recommendation will be to put the farms in the desert where there is bugger all wind brilliant.

  6. Colin Nicholson 4 years ago

    Let them have the committee, but then start to bring in some additional peripherals. The effects of offshore oil platforms on fauna would be a good one to add

  7. Pedro 4 years ago

    I would love to see the same amount determination by the LNP to review fracking and CSG.

  8. George Papadopoulos 4 years ago

    I think it is clear (if one reads through the lines) that these senators are not “anti-renewables”, but amongst other things appear to be listening to the concerns and traumatic experiences of people living around wind farms. Time to wake up: the wind industry is a problem!

    • Beat Odermatt 4 years ago

      They are “anti-renewables”, nothing less and nothing more. If they want fairness, they would have an investigations into ALL forms of energy sources, including coal. For example how many people have died from sickness due to coal dust?

      • George Papadopoulos 4 years ago

        Did it occur to you that there is a foundation (Waubra Foundation) specifically focused on health issues with wind energy? Does that not tell you anything about wind energy? It is a problem like few others, but grossly under-recognized.

        • Beat Odermatt 4 years ago

          You know that all the claims of these few people has been already proven as being wrong. We have evidence from all over the world of the impact of coal mining and burning of fossil fuel on human health. It is easy to make silly claims.

          • George Papadopoulos 4 years ago

            Really? Ever bothered to familiarize yourself with the existing literature on wind turbines and health? Yes, coal mining is an issue, but coal is pretty localised as opposed to the ubiquitous presence of wind turbines…

          • Beat Odermatt 4 years ago

            Yes, there is not a single paper which can demonstrate any ill effects. Try to tell the people of Ipswich, Leigh Creek etc. and try to tell them that wind mills are dangerous, they would laugh you out of town.

          • George Papadopoulos 4 years ago

            Comparing coal victims with those of wind turbines again? Don’t you realise that you’re de-facto sanctioning the trampling of human rights? Is it OK to install ornaments of sonic torture around peoples’ homes so you can supposedly “save” others from coal? Don’t people have rights to live in comfort and safety? Do you need irrefutable, incontrovertible, conclusive evidence to tell you that wind turbines “directly” affect human health? In case you missed the point of many published papers, including those funded by the wind industry that noise nuisance is an issue around wind farms, and yes noise nuisance does impact on people’s quality of life and health – perhaps indirectly?

          • Beat Odermatt 4 years ago

            There is NO ill effect from wind turbines, unless people have a chance to get money. There is absolutely no truth in any allegation, just a story to get some money to compensate their envy. All wind farms are situated well away from towns and dwellings. I suggest that these Luddites change from wearing tin hats to aluminium foil on their heads.

          • George Papadopoulos 4 years ago

            Thank you for showing your bias on this issue – opinions that are baseless, cruel and inconsiderate. I assume nothing will convince you otherwise – perhaps not even high quality irrefutable evidence.

          • Beat Odermatt 4 years ago

            Yes, I do not accept unproven false claims by a bunch of self interested envy driven bounty hunters. If you talk about noise, we have already laws to deal with them, which may include laughter of children, cars, noise made by wind and surf etc. I am biased when it comes to selfish people trying to stop good environmental action. We need at least 10 times more wind farms!

          • George Papadopoulos 4 years ago

            Yes, we have laws that don’t regulate low frequency noise, and out of sync with published research. Sorry but I feel you are grossly narrow-minded and see no further point to continue this discussion.

          • Beat Odermatt 4 years ago

            You know the typical response of the tin hat brigade. I am sure that you will be able to “proof” that the earth is flat. You may think that a coal fired power station is silent and the stuff coming out of the smoke stacks is “holy smoke”. Maybe, travel to a coal mine and maybe get close to a coal fired power station and compare!

          • George Papadopoulos 4 years ago

            More evidence that you imagine. Who told you I support coal energy?

  9. Beat Odermatt 4 years ago

    Why not have an investigation into ALL forms of energy sources. We could compare the environmental impact between coal mining and wind energy. We could look at which industry has killed more people from various causes such as lung cancer?

Comments are closed.