Groups call on O’Farrell to back wind power

Several community environment groups released the statement below on September 22.

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Environment, health and community groups have gathered in Sydney on September 22 to discuss the future of wind energy in NSW. As electricity prices continue to rise for most NSW households, the groups have welcomed reports from South Australia that wind power is cutting pollution and lowering the wholesale market cost of electricity.

Nature Conservation Council of NSW CEO Pepe Clarke said: “NSW should join South Australia who are not only benefiting from the reduced emissions of wind power but cheaper energy prices at the same time.

“Wind power is a mature technology capable of providing a proven, cost-effective way of meeting the NSW government’s 20% renewable energy by 2020 target.”

Beyond Zero Emissions strategic director Mark Ogge said: “Right now, there are more than $10.4 billion worth of wind farm proposals waiting for the green light to generate enough power for more than 2.3 million homes.

“A huge opportunity for new investment and job creation awaits NSW.”

100% Renewable campaign spokesperson Lindsay Soutar said: “The state government’s own research, together with local community surveys of more than 12,500 people show high levels of public support for renewable energy.

“Nearly 90% of people we spoke to supported the introduction of more renewable energy as a way of managing rising energy prices.”

Community support for wind is also strong in regional areas where community groups are starting to initiate their own wind projects.

Adam Blakester from New England Wind, which is working to establish Australia’s first large-scale community wind farm, said: “In the New England, our survey of 1300 people showed overwhelming support for wind power and 110 landholders have expressed interest in hosting the community wind farm.”

This contrasts with Victoria, where new and unworkable wind farm guidelines are causing a big community backlash.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne campaigner Ben Courtice said: “The Victorian premier is facing a huge amount of heat from communities who were looking forward to the economic benefits of wind.

“But Victoria’s loss is NSW’s opportunity.”

University of Sydney School of Public Health’s Professor Simon Chapman said: “A review of all evidence on the health effects of wind turbines published this week concluded there is no evidence that wind turbines directly cause diseases.”

Doctors for the Environment spokesperson Dr Merryn Redenbach said: “As a clean, healthy and safe source of power, wind energy will play a critical role in the transition away from polluting and dangerous coal power to a renewable energy future.”

The groups are calling on NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell to ensure the wind guidelines that are being developed incorporate measures for strong community consultation and the continued growth of the wind industry in NSW.