Over the last few years the rollout of wind farms in Australia has faced some setbacks.
In 2011, Premier Ted Baillieu enacted the world’s strictest planning laws for wind farms. We now know the laws have stalled the sector’s development, cost thousands of jobs and billions in investment.
The anti-wind farm lobby was on the ascendancy thoughout that time due to its scare campaign alleging wind farms make people sick. Despite a lack of credible evidence, anti-wind farm groups persistently link wind turbines to a bizarre collection of 234 diseases and symptoms.
Yet when people look back on 2013, they’ll see that it was the year pro-wind voices turned the tide in the ‘wind wars’.
Just last month, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal approved the Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposed for Trawool in Central Victoria. The decision was welcome news to Yes 2 Renewables as we’ve been engaged in a campaign of support for the project for over a year.
Anti-wind farm groups dogged the Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposal from the start. They stacked a town hall meeting and planning submissions. They even hijacked the legal proceedings, slowing down the decision making process at every turn to inflate the costs the proponent.
Unfortunately for the anti-wind campaign, Yes 2 Renewables were present in Central Victoria and partnered with BEAM-Mitchell Environment Group. We produced a joint BEAM/Y2R ‘mythbusting flyer’, held dozens of ‘listening posts’ to re-engage the community on wind, acted as a watchdog in the press, and held a positive Energy Futures Forum event.
Yet the Cherry Tree Range wind farm is just one battleground where Yes 2 Renewables has been active.
Earlier in the year, Yes 2 Renewables made trips down to King Island to observe the community consultation process and speak with locals about a wind farm proposed for the island. My controversial ejection from a town hall meeting where well-known anti-wind campaigner Sarah Laurie was speaking resulted in me becoming known as the ‘Vegemite Man’. The move reflected poorly the wind farm opponents.
In June, Yes 2 Renewables headed to Canberra to hold a Rally 4 Renewables with GetUp!. In an attempt to influence the incoming Coalition government’s renewable energy policy, the anti-wind farm lobby gambled on a public rally at Parliament House. Despite having shock jock Alan Jones as a drawcard, several Members of Parliament presenting, and many weeks head start, the Rally 4 Renewables attracted ten-times more attendees as the anti-wind event.
All of this community organising takes a huge amount of time and energy. On behalf of Friends of the Earth, I’d like to thank all of our hardworking volunteers, members and supporters for their efforts in 2013. Together, we have made a difference.
To ensure that our next 12 months is as successful as our last, the Yes 2 Renewables team would love your help. Victoria is heading into a state election and we’re determined to put wind energy and renewables on the agenda.
- If you’d like to volunteer, please email leigh.ewbank [at] foe.org.au.
- If you have a few spare bob and would like make a donation, you can do so here.
- You can become a Friends of the Earth member here.
For now, merry Christmas and a safe new year. We look forward to seeing you again in 2014.