Pollie Watch: Will SA Liberals kill wind energy jobs, investment?

Posted on March 12, 2014 by

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Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 9.35.03 AMSouth Australia is national leader when it comes to renewable energy. Wind energy and more recently roof top solar has boomed in the state.  

With the state heading to the polls this weekend, many renewable energy observers are wondering how a change of government will affect South Australia’s incredible energy transition. 

Liberal party candidate for Frome, Kendall Jackson, in on the record supporting restrictions on wind farm developments:

In regards to wind farms, the Liberal team is supportive of our local communities and ensuring local farmers are not unnecessarily disadvantaged by power station development. We believe there should be adequate distance between peoples homes and wind turbines — five kilometres from towns and two kilometres from homes.

The “adequate distance” suggested by the Liberal party candidate are arbitrary. It makes no reference to objective factors such as noise standards, acoustic modelling, turbine type, community support or environment/biodiversity considerations.

According to South Australian Yes 2 Renewables supporter Dave Clarke, a mandatory setback distance of five kilometres from towns would have prevented the Hallett 2, Waterloo, and also Wattle Point wind farms.

The restrictions on wind farm development that appears to be South Australian Liberal party policy mirrors measures adopted in Victoria  in 2011.

The Baillieu government’s strict anti-wind farm laws have decimated the sector. Just 24 turbines have been approved under the Coalition. This compares unfavourably with the Victorian Labor party’s track record. The Mount Mercer wind farm, approved under Labor, has 64 turbines–more than double what the Coalition has delivered.

One only has to look at the Victorian experience to see that restrictions on wind farms will cost South Australia investment and jobs. The Baillieu anti wind-farm laws have cost:

  • Around $887 million in lost or stalled investment
  • 650 direct jobs lost or stalled in construction
  • 54 on-going jobs in management of wind farms
  • 1408 indirectly associated (flow-on) jobs.

For a long time, South Australia’s economy has boomed (exhibit A and B) from its rich wind resource and sensible planning framework.

At a time when the economy is shedding jobs, particularly in manufacturing, Australia needs all the jobs it can get. Arbitrary restrictions on wind farms is a backwards step that will kill investment and job opportunities.

More Info:

Dave Clarke has been tracking his state’s progress on renewable energy for years. Clarke has visited the Snowtown II wind farm which is now under construction and has pointed out milestones in renewable energy. For more information on the South Australian Liberal party’s record on wind energy, visit Dave Clarke’s Ramblings website.

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