Over the last few years the rollout of wind farms in Australia has faced some setbacks, yet the sector’s fortunes are changing.
In 2011 Victoria’s Coalition government imposed onerous restrictions on wind farms, which stalled the sector’s development and cost thousands of jobs and billions in investment in that state.
More recently on a national level, Senators Madigan and Xenophon have pushed similarly restrictive legislation in the Senate and the Coalition’s reluctance to support the 41,000 GWh Renewable Energy Target is creating uncertainty for developers.
The impact of these policy issues have been amplified by a noisy minority of anti-wind farm campaigners. The Waubra Foundation and website, Stop These Things, among others, have attempted to turn the public against clean, renewable energy generated from the wind.
Taking a chapter out of the climate deniers playbook, they consistently raise doubts about the technology. The anti-wind lobby repeatedly claim wind farms cause 233 health problems despite 19 reviews showing wind energy to be clean and safe.
While the anti-wind farm campaign has bought into its own rhetoric, the Australian public hasn’t. Poll after poll shows the majority of Australians support more wind farms. These people come from all walks of life – blue-collar workers who see the jobs potential of the sector; farmers who want to drought-proof their land by hosting turbines; and environmentally conscious community members who want to be a part of climate change solutions.
In 2012, TasWind put the fate of a wind farm proposal in the hands of King Islanders. It was this unique community consultation model which inspired me to visit your Island on two occasions. Some of you may know me as the ‘Vegemite Man’, in reference to the knitted jumper I’m always wearing.
After nearly six months of deliberation and debate, a majority of King Islanders have given TasWind the green light to undertake a feasibility study. They have voted to find out more information about the proposal, its potential benefits and impacts. Before ultimately making a decision about the project itself.
In 2012, King Islanders were trusted to determine the fate of a proposed wind farm. On Monday, the results of a community vote were announced.
Despite an aggressive scare campaign backed by wealthy NIMBYs and big PR, a clear majority of the community voted for a feasibility study into a 600MW wind farm proposed by HydroTasmania. The result shows that King Islanders won’t be fooled by anti-wind energy spin.
The two-year feasibility study will examine the economic, technical and environmental aspects of the wind farm proposal. The community will now be able to get all the information to needed to make an informed choice about the wind farm proposal.
The green light for the feasibility study is great news for King Islanders and their economy.
With the closure of its abattoir in late 2012, a shrinking population and increased shipping costs, the Island desperately needs a new economic lifeline. That hope may come from the proposed TasWind wind farm. Continue reading “King Island’s renewables vision”
The nation’s biggest wind farm development on King Island is being threatened by golf course developments — that themselves threaten 80,000 mutton birds. David Looker reports.
THE Short-tailed Shearwater, commonly called the mutton bird, is an unassuming bird whose habits capture the imagination.
It breeds in coastal sand holes dug in massive rookeries across southern Australia and then flies in a figure of eight pattern, across the Pacific, to feeding grounds as far away as the Arctic Ocean off Alaska. It is a prolific species — Parks Tasmania estimate there are 23 million of them.
The shearwater often returns to breed in the same hole and with the same mate — sometimes for over a decade. Flights of up to 17,000 kilometres have been tracked.
The body spearheading community consultation for the King Island wind farm proposal has released new economic modelling on the costs and benefits of the project. Unfortunately for King Islanders, the study appears to be deeply flawed. It fails to provide meaningful information needed for informed decision making.
The TasWind Consultative Committee commissioned the consultancy CH2M Hill to investigate how King Island’s economy would fare with and without the wind farm. Due to narrow terms of reference it failed to account for some of the most important benefits the wind farm would deliver.
Pay close attention to the following passage (page 15):
“The construction of the TasWind Project under Model 1 will be accompanied by associated upgrades to existing port infrastructure, accommodation facilities, and the installation of a fibre optic telecommunication cable. Depending on the port design and other costs, these infrastructure upgrades may result in a range of indirect benefits to the King Island economy and community but further analysis will be required. While the impact of these indirect benefits has not been explicitly considered in the economic model, the potential benefits will not accrue to the King Island economy or community under Model 2.”
Not “explicitly considered” means not considered. You don’t have to be an economist (or a rocket scientist for that matter) to understand how upgraded port facilities and expedited access to the NBN will strengthen the local economy. CH2M Hill’s finding that King Island’s economy will be better off without the wind farm should be taken with a grain of salt. Continue reading “Economic study on King Island wind farm is “deeply flawed””
A wind farm proposal for King Island has emerged as a case study in community engagement.
The wind farm proponent, TasWind, are seeking the support of the community from the earliest stages of the project. The public-owned energy company is giving the community the power to decide whether a two-year feasibility study is conducted. TasWind is on the record in the King Island Courierassuring islanders it would only proceed with the wind farm if it is supported by the majority of the community. Put simply, TasWind is allowing the community to determine the fate of the project.
The TasWind approach may eventually be regarded as a best practice model for community engagement. Yet this fact hasn’t stopped King Island from becoming the latest battleground for anti-wind farm campaigners. These interests are seeking to kill the project before a feasibility study is even conducted. That is, before the community has the facts, figures and evidence it needs to make an informed decision. Continue reading “King Island wind farm proposal: a case study in community engagement”