Policy Watch: NSW govt imposes ‘red tape’ on wind farms

NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard

NSW Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard has directed that nine wind farm projects now be considered as State Significant Developments instead of being dealt with under the Part 3A transitional provisions that are a legacy from Labor’s time in office. This decision effectively places them back in the planning system.

The wind farms affected by the NSW government’s reactionary decision are:

  1. Yass
  2. Crookwell
  3. Liverpool Range
  4. Rugby
  5. Bango
  6. Uungula
  7. Crudine Ridge
  8. Paling Yards
  9. and Rye Park

It seems that NSW has joined the Victorian government in privileging a minority of vocal anti-wind campaigners over the majority of the community, who continue to support renewable energy. The previous planning system struck a sensible balance in decision making.

“The NSW government has sown the seeds of community division by reopening the planning process for these wind farms,” Yes 2 Renewables told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“A noisy minority refuse to accept wind energy and make unsubstantiated claims the technology has health impacts. This decision looks like a capitulation to those elements.” Continue reading “Policy Watch: NSW govt imposes ‘red tape’ on wind farms”

EVENT: Y2R at the Sustainable Living Festival 2014

Victoria’s Energy Future: Fighting Fossil Fuels and Saying Yes to Renewables 

This weekend, Yes 2 Renewables and Quit Coal will present at the 2014 Melbourne Sustainable Living Festival.

Locked Gate FrackingVictoria has come to a fork in the road: Will our energy system remain hitched to polluting fossil fuels or will we shift to clean renewable energy sources?

The Coalition government already made its choice without our consent. It banned wind farms in the windiest parts of the state and is pushing the expansion of coal and coal seam gas on rural communities.

As we head into an election, what is needed to protect rural Victoria and put us on the path to a clean, renewable energy future? Join us to find out.

WHERE: Federation Square – Under the Gum stage, Birrarung Marr Park

COST: Free

RSVP: Facebook

Continue reading “EVENT: Y2R at the Sustainable Living Festival 2014”

Election aftermath: Full speed in reverse

camBy Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth’s campaigns coordinator explores Australia’s new political landscape in an article published by Chain Reaction – Friends of the Earth’s national magazine. Find other thought-provoking articles and support Friends of the Earth by subscribing to Chain Reaction.

The following is a brief assessment of possible trajectories in environmental politics under the federal Coalition government, specific areas where the Coalition can be expected to act, and a summary of some of the key players in the new political landscape.

The first Tea Party government?

John Howard was never an advocate for climate action. Yet we face something different in Tony Abbott. A lot of water has passed under the bridge of conservative politics since Howard’s days. If we want to see what an Abbott government might mean for the environment, we would be well advised to look to the US, where a highly ideological Tea Party movement continues to drive government agendas. Think Sarah Palin, not John Howard.

It seems clear that this government will start to dismantle 40 years of environmental progress and modernisation, as approvals for major projects are passed to the States and Territories. Tony Abbott calls this cutting ‘green tape’. In the real world this means more coal mines, more gas rigs, and more port facilities on the Great Barrier Reef.

453380-1f4faa60-3e22-11e3-9bcd-10262b6f8853Mr Abbott has long said that his first actions as PM will include the dismantling of the carbon price. What is surprising is the speed at which he is enacting his agenda. There are a considerable number of senior Coalition MPs with profound dislike of all things green. This may manifest as vindictive actions, like the expected lock out of environmental NGOs from government access.

This Tea Party approach is a strategic error. Playing to the climate sceptics and anti-greens will not win fans amongst soft green Liberal voters. It also runs the risk of alienating sections of the business community. For example, if Mr Abbott shuts down the wind industry, he is depriving farmers of reliable income and removing jobs from regional Australia. In short, if this government goes hard against everything green, it will damage the economy at the same time.

When we look at the Coalition’s recent record, we can see they have been forced to keep the facade that they will take action on climate, yet the Direct Action Plan will deliver very little in terms of emissions reduction. It is little more than a slush fund for farmers and the tree plantings by his Green Army will not be a panacea for our rising greenhouse emissions. The anti science agenda suggests that the Coalition is not controlled by economic rationalists any more, because of the evidence that it is willing to protect fossil fuels and mining at any cost. Continue reading “Election aftermath: Full speed in reverse”

Energy Futures Forum a success in Seymour

Published by BEAM-Mitchell Environment Group. View the original article.

The Energy Futures Forum organised by BEAM and Yes 2 Renewables was held in Seymour on the 16th of November. It has helped broadened the debate about energy issues in the Mitchell Shire region with over 50 turning up for an informative day.

The Energy Futures Forum held the the VRI Hall in Seymour attracted over 50 people.
The Energy Futures Forum held the the VRI Hall in Seymour attracted over 50 people.

Energy has become a hot topic for the community with a wind farm proposed for the region. The 15-turbine Cherry Tree Range wind farm is currently before VCAT with a decision expected at any moment. The proposal for a wind farm on Cherry Tree Range is a local manifestation of the energy choices we’re now facing. Will we remain hitched to fossil fuels, pollution and climate change, or will we shift to renewable energy with the benefits of jobs and drought-proof income for regional Victoria?

The audience was highly engaged in the subject matter and expressed positive feedback about the quality of the presenters. The positive tone and evidence-based presentations of the Energy Futures Event was a contrast to the emotive, fear-laden anti-wind farm meeting in Trawool last year. Continue reading “Energy Futures Forum a success in Seymour”

Australia ‘under old management’ on climate change, renewables

camBy Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth’s campaigns coordinator.

As an environmentalist, it’s easy to say that the election of the Coalition to power is akin to the country being ‘under old management.’ The modest steps forward on environmental protection and climate change achieved under the previous government are already being swept away, back to the days of John Howard, when Australia was a pariah amongst the global community as one of the worst actors in the UN climate negotiations.

As an old school conservative, his primary focus was the culture war around the ideas that frame the national political debate. He was astute enough to make noises on the need for action on climate change towards the end of his time as PM, even though he has recently announced his scorn for the “alarmist” scientific consensus on climate change in a speech to a gathering of British climate sceptics.

The evidence suggests that Tony Abbott will be far more radical at prosecuting an anti environment agenda than his predecessor.

If we want to see what an Abbott government might mean for the environment, we would be well advised to look to the example of the USA, where a highly ideological Tea Party movement continues to drive government agendas. If you want to imagine the future years under the new government, think Sarah Palin, not John Howard. Continue reading “Australia ‘under old management’ on climate change, renewables”

Gippsland locks the gate on CSG, opens it to renewables

MaffraGippsland is the frontline of the battle against unconventional gas in Victoria. Mining and resources companies have their sights on the region as the next frontier for expanding the onshore gas industry. Unconventional gas extraction has taken root in Queensland and New South Wales, and industry players want Victoria to follow suit.

The Lock the Gate Alliance invited Yes 2 Renewables to Maffra to speak with the community about the broader context of energy and the potential of renewables.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 5.15.56 PMYes 2 Renewables was pleased to join Merryn Redenbach from Doctors for the Environment Australia and Felicity Milner from the Environmental Defenders Office to present to 50 people at the Maffra Football Club last week.

Those opposed to wind energy like to say regional communities are divided on wind farms, so I was unsure how my presentation on community-owned renewable energy would be received. Continue reading “Gippsland locks the gate on CSG, opens it to renewables”

What is the risk for Mitchell Shire residents of coal seam gas exploration?

On November 16, BEAM-Mitchell Environment Group and Yes 2 Renewables will present an Energy Futures Forum in Seymour. The event is already sparking interest in the region which is the site of the proposed Cherry Tree Range wind farm.

Victoria stands at a crossroads. Will our energy future be defined by more business-as-usual: fossil fuels, pollution, the threat of fracking and climate change? Or will we transition to clean renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar, community-owned renewable projects and wind farms?

We could think of no one better to explore the implications of unconventional gas extraction than Chloe Aldenhoven, Victorian coordinator of the Lock the Gate Alliance. Original article published by BEAM. 

97% of people surveyed in the Liverpool Plains want their district to be gasfield free. Source: Lock the Gate, photo by Jeremy Buckingham MLC

Chloe Aldenhoven, Victorian coordinator of the Lock the Gate Alliance, will talk about the growing community opposition to this type of mining at the Energy Futures Forum in Seymour on November 16.

“Coal seam gas is a dirty and unsustainable fossil fuel that contributes to climate change,” said Ms Aldenhoven. Coal seam gas has been touted as an option for increased gas production all around Australia as existing gas reserves are limited, or tied up as lucrative exports.

More than 54 percent of Australia is covered by coal and gas licences or applications. The controversial process of “fracking” is used to explore for, and extract, the underground gas. Continue reading “What is the risk for Mitchell Shire residents of coal seam gas exploration?”

Pollie Watch: Wind bashing Angus Taylor on pro-CSG taskforce

Retired Liberal MP passes the baton to Angus Taylor, the new Member for Hume.

ABC News has revealed the members of the taskforce who worked on the pro-CSG Reith Review. The taskforce includes none other than wind energy bashing Liberal MP, Angus Taylor.

As the current Liberal member for Hume, Angus Taylor has followed in the footsteps of predecessor Alby Schultz and is an active campaigner against wind farms. Both Schultz (who is newly appointed Patron to the Waubra Foundation) and Taylor appeared at the lacklustre anti-wind farm rally held at Parliament House in June, 2013.

“[A]ll the taskforce members, except for Mr Reith, represent energy companies or associated industries and lobby groups,” writes ABC journalist Jeff Waters.

The Napthine government has not made the Reith Review public, though it reportedly supports unconventional gas extraction in Victoria and an end to the state’s moratorium on fracking.

Taylor’s presence on the pro-CSG taskforce is not the first time the MP has been linked to research supporting the gas industry. According to RenewEconomy, Taylor circulated a report by Port Jackson Partners (a consultancy where he used to work) among Coalition MPs earlier in 2013:

“The central theme of the report is that the Coalition could drop the renewable energy target entirely (and immediately), save up to $3.2 billion (or up to $300 a household) by 2020 and still meet emissions reduction targets. But it’s based around a whole series of false assumptions. It is more likely to push up costs by around $1 billion a year.”

The Port Jackson Partners report overestimates the price of wind, and underestimates the cost of gas. It’s doubtful the PJP analysis considered climate change impacts, the fugitive emissions from unconventional gas extractions, or the potential damage to prime agricultural land and aquifers. Continue reading “Pollie Watch: Wind bashing Angus Taylor on pro-CSG taskforce”