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Cut to renewables target will hit local services, warns Ararat editorial

Mayors Hooper and Erwin in Ararat
Mayors Paul Hooper and Kevin Erwin joined local Yes 2 Renewables supporters at the site of the proposed Ararat wind farm in May, 2014.

Local government leadership on the Renewable Energy Target in western Victoria has prompted a leading regional paper to warn of cuts to the Renewable Energy Target in an editorial.

Yes 2 Renewables readers will be aware of the strong pro-RET position taken by mayors Paul Hooper (Ararat Rural City) and Kevin Erwin (Northern Grampians), whom we met in May while on our RET Road Trip. The pair have joined forces with the Pyrenees Shire Council to pen a letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, calling on the 41-terawatt-hour Renewable Energy Target to be retained.

The Ararat Advertiser has thrown its’ weight behind the efforts of the Ararat, Northern Grampians, and Pyrenees mayors. In an editorial published this week, the paper warns of the local impacts of a weakened Renewable Energy Target:

Windfall potential must be realised

The removal by the federal government of the controversial carbon tax is likely to have an impact on many businesses and industries within the Northern Grampians Shire.

What exactly that impact is, may not be known for some time, but it has given businesses hope of continued growth into the future.

Now councils in the region are also turning their focus onto another controversial plan under consideration by the government, that being the winding back of the Renewable Energy Target Scheme. Mayors from the Northern Grampians, Pyrenees and Ararat councils have written directly to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, raising his awareness as to the economic and social impact such a decision would have on local economies.

Of course the RET relates mainly to wind farms and the economic benefits they bring to regional communities.

With four wind farm developments either existing or under consideration in the three municipalities, the economic benefits are enormous.

Potentially, it could mean $1.68 billion in new investment, the generation of $1.3 million per annum in rates to the councils, creation of 60 direct and 74 indirect jobs and a contribution of $300,000 per annum to local community groups.

As the Northern Grampians Shire Council in particular faces a difficult scenario in relation to the delivery of childcare services at present and as further cuts continue to be made to many other services, the potential to tap into such an economic windfall must not be taken away.

Councils remain hopeful that the government has set a precedent with the scrapping of the carbon tax, that it listened to the cries of major businesses and will be even more hopeful that the same common sense will prevail in relation to the winding back of the Renewable Energy Target.

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