Environmental activist organisation Friends of the Earth (FoE) is leading the fight against anti-wind farm legislation proposed by former Premier Ted Baillieu, citing adverse costs on the environment and economy. From FoE’s most recent report, the hardest hit will be the renewable energy jobs previously created by an enthusiastic support of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) goals set by the previous Australian government.
Statistically, Baillieu’s proposal will precipitate the loss of an estimated 490 construction jobs directly related to the wind turbines that are a wind farm’s main renewable energy source feature. Some 64 jobs that are on-going in the maintenance of these wind turbines and various effects considered to be “flow-on” for vacancies, estimated at $10.5m worth of activities for rural economies.
Wind farmers will be deprived of more than $2.1m worth of income that is currently drought-proof with the use of wind turbines or some $54.2m within a 25-year duration period. Regional communities benefited by wind farms will be denied funding accessibility to wind turbines maintenance and operations, a figure that totals $806,804 a year or $20.1m within 25 years.
Local councils will be deprived of funds for wind farm operations and maintenance of regional municipalities that are currently in the rate of $516,937 or $12.9m within a 25-year duration period. The Baillieu law will also stall the wind generation’s capacity of 438MW which could power nearly 250,000 homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions of 1.38m tonnes per year.
Friends of the Earth
FoE is seeking assistance from the government to restore a sense of fairness in the implementation of the Baillieu law. FoE wants the revocations of the 2km right of veto from households and the arbitration of exclusion zones of wind turbines, citing transparency as the determining factor for future zones.
FoE wants an assurance that extensions are given to projects which already have existing approval until construction commences. The organisation wants the reinstatement of the Minister for Planning as main authority for projects that are over 30MW. For Victoria, FoE has sounded off its concerns, namely:
-The support for the RET goals as they were originally envisioned and formulated such as the endorsement of large-scale generation from renewable energy sources by 2020 to achieve a 41TW per hour target.
-The re-enactment of Victoria’s RET to encourage more investments in wind farm projects that are already shovel-ready.
-Reallocation of programs for fossil fuel sources funded by taxpayers’ money to establishment of clean technology hubs for manufacturing and structures for developing new renewable energy technologies.
-Reallocation of Victoria’s remaining government funds of $370m for the Energy Technology Innovation Strategy or ETIS to the 2014-2015; likewise of the $90m to be made available to ALDO or the Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program.
The Potential of the Wind Turbines
The flux state which the renewable energy industry currently finds itself in has given FoE the momentum to encourage people to take action against Baillieu’s law by signing their petition to be sent to the Labour Party’s leader, Daniel Andrews, who also happens to be the Opposition’s leader, and Victoria’s Premier Denis Napthine.
According to Mayor Kevin Erwin of North Grampians, the present wind farms at Stockyard Hill, Crowlands, Bulgana, and Ararat have a combined 374 total number of turbines that have the potential of $1.68b worth of investments. These wind farms, Erwin explained, can generate 74 indirect and 60 direct renewable energy jobs and provide $1.3m in rates yearly to councils.