Election Watch: Where do South Barwon candidates stand on renewable energy?

Renewable energy is a mainstream election issue in the marginal seat of South Barwon—which stretches from the suburbs of Geelong, down to the Surf Coast and out to Moriac. Anti-wind farm laws introduced by the Coaltion government in 2011 killed off the Surf … Continue reading Election Watch: Where do South Barwon candidates stand on renewable energy?

IPCC Report: Act now on climate, build renewables

WGIII_AR5_Cover_webThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has today released its report on climate change mitigation – how to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

It follows hard on the heels an earlier report on the impacts from climate change which pointed to devastating effects on the poor and wildlife. This new mitigation report outlines what must be done if dangerous climate change is to be avoided. It represents a wake up call to the Australian governments, whose love affair with dirty fossil fuels is leading to disaster.

Here are five hard facts from the report:

  • Time to say good-bye to dirty fossil fuels – fossil fuel use is the number one problem, responsible for more than three-quarters of total greenhouse gas emissions. We are on the path to around 3.5 degrees to 6 degrees of warming by 2100. Keeping global warming below two degrees will require a rapid reduction in use of fossil fuels, for example, a reduction in carbon dioxide of 90 per cent or more from the energy supply system between 2040 and 2070.
  • Wealthy countries need to shoulder burden of costs – wealthy countries need to transfer significant money to developing countries each year in order to help them to develop using clean low-carbon technology rather than dirty fossil fuels. Without this financial transfer poorer countries will have no choice but to use cheaper dirty fossil fuels such as coal in order to meet their population’s legitimate aspiration for higher living standards.
  • Much more should be spent on energy efficiency and low carbon energy needs – spending on energy efficiency and low carbon technology needs to be very significantly increased and spending on fossil fuels needs to decrease substantially.
  • Bioenergy has a limited role, but not done badly – bioenergy has a limited role in delivering low carbon energy but if not well regulated bioenergy deployment could increase emissions, and compromise livelihoods, food-security, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Biomass for energy, including improved cookstoves, and small scale biogas and biopower production, could reduce GHG emissions and improve livelihoods and health.
  • It is still possible to avoid dangerous climate change – remarkably given the increasing use of fossil fuels and emissions over recent decades we still have a chance of avoiding global warming of two degrees. A pathway to give a high chance of avoiding two-degrees would require rapid action in cutting emissions, plus the development of technology and approaches to remove carbon pollution from the atmosphere, plus behavioural change (for example, shifting to healthier diets).

If Australian politicians are serious about protecting us from the impacts of climate change they will heed the IPCC’s warnings and take action. Continue reading “IPCC Report: Act now on climate, build renewables”

Tale of two wind farms confirms toxic influence of anti-wind lobby

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 4.12.34 PMThe contrast between the Cherry Tree Range and Coonooer Bridge wind farms detailed in The Age’s  ‘Against the Wind’  feature article is telling.

It shows us that when the anti-wind campaign comes to town, there’s fear and division. And when they don’t, there’s civil deliberation of wind farm proposals and acceptance of planning decisions.

Anti-wind farm groups aren’t just dividing communities, they’re costing them money.

The Waubra Foundation and Landscape Guardians dominated the VCAT hearings on the Cherry Tree Range wind farm. While Mitchell Shire representatives stated at the outset that they did not reject the wind farm on health grounds, it was health arguments that dragged out the proceedings.

A Freedom of Information request made by Friends of the Earth discovered the VCAT hearing cost the Mitchell Shire at least $165,000. Ratepayers are the collateral damage in an ideological fight against clean and safe wind energy.

The Coalition government said their wind farm planning laws would empower local communities. All they’ve done is empower anti-wind farm campaigners.

All available public polling shows Victorians support more wind farms. The Labor opposition has vowed to “rip up” Ted Baillieu’s flawed wind farm planning laws. Will Premier Napthine commit to restore fairness to the planning scheme? Continue reading “Tale of two wind farms confirms toxic influence of anti-wind lobby”

Reflections on the Cherry Tree Range wind farm debate

Cherry Tree Range, near Trawool.

The Cherry Tree Rage wind farm approved by VCAT last week sparked a debate about wind energy technology that lasted a year. It’s OK for people to have disagreements about the aesthetics of wind farms in the bush.

For me, wind farms represent the future of our energy system, innovation, an economic lifeline for communities, and action on climate change. Unfortunately, opponents of wind farms grasp at arguments that aren’t supported by evidence in an attempt to bolster their position such as the claim that wind farms cause ill health effects. Continue reading “Reflections on the Cherry Tree Range wind farm debate”

Cherry Tree wind farm – opportunities that will define

When VCAT handed down its finding for Infigen’s  Cherry Tree Range wind farm at the end of November some Mitchell Shire residents were quick to air their views on the outcome. Last week (on 4th December 2013) the Seymour Telegraph published a two page article about the case, incorporating views from across the spectrum of opinion, including two letters to the editor.

Image: Cherry Tree Range; source: Seymour Telegraph
Image: Cherry Tree Range; source: Seymour Telegraph

Continue reading “Cherry Tree wind farm – opportunities that will define”

Wind farms: What we can’t hear, can’t harm

Published by Renew Economy. View original article.


In a new analysis, the Australian Energy Market Operator estimates Victoria will have 4,090 MW of new wind energy capacity installed by 2020. Those who support more renewables in the energy mix will welcome the forecast, yet it may be optimistic.

Today (Friday September 27), the Victorian Civil Administration Tribunal (VCAT) will resume the decision making process on the Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposed for central Victoria. Despite meeting the world’s strictest wind farm planning laws and laying outside the multitude of no-go zones imposed by the Baillieu government, the project could be thwarted. By what? The self interest and pseudo-science trumpeted by anti-wind farm groups.

The fate of the Cherry Tree Range wind farm is a test case for wind energy in Victoria. If it’s approved then there’s hope Victoria will achieve the high-penetration of wind energy AEMO predict by the end of the decade.

VCAT adjourned with an interim determination in April, finding the permit application was in accordance with all the planning considerations that the Mitchell Shire had contested. However the Tribunal decided it would await the outcome of an EPA SA study into alleged noise complaints at Waterloo wind farm, and also a new review by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

VCAT left us to ponder the question: whether there is a causal link between sound pressure emissions from wind turbines and adverse health effects of a physiological nature. Continue reading “Wind farms: What we can’t hear, can’t harm”

Community group shows support for local wind farm in letter to VCAT

Infigen Energy are seeking approval to build 16 wind turbines atop Cherry Tree Hill in Trawool, Victoria.
Infigen Energy are seeking approval to build 16 wind turbines atop Cherry Tree Hill in Trawool, Victoria.

In the lead up to the VCAT’s directions hearing on the Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposed for Trawool in central Victoria, the BEAM Mitchell Environment Group has written to VCAT detailing new evidence which bolsters the case that wind energy is clean and safe (The Weekly Times).

The local group hopes VCAT will make a quick determination about the fate of the Cherry Tree wind farm. BEAM President Richard Telford:

“BEAM has closely followed the progress of the VCAT hearing and are encouraged by the very recent findings of the NSW Planning Assessment Commission,” says

“BEAM Mitchell Environment Group remains supportive of the Cherry Tree Wind Farm proposal. BEAM continues to be of the opinion that the benefits to our community far exceed any potential for negative impact.”

“We believe there are merits to determining an outcome as soon as possible.” Continue reading “Community group shows support for local wind farm in letter to VCAT”

Planning body dismisses anti-wind farm lobby claims. Will VCAT follow suit?

Trawool in Central Victoria, location of a proposed 15 turbine wind farm.

As the VCAT hearings on the Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposal is scheduled to resume at the end of the month (September 27), another Infigen wind farm has received the tick of approval from a planning commission.

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) has ruled in favour of the Bodangora wind farm and dismissed health concerns brought to the attention of commissioners by anti-wind farm campaigners–including the likes of Sarah Laurie, who Crikey describes as a “well-known anti-wind farm campaigner.”

The PAC’s approval of the Bodangora wind farm shows that planning authorities base their decisions on credible research, not pseudoscience claiming that wind farms harm human health.

Given that there are 19 reviews by credible health bodies that show wind farms are clean and safe, the PAC’s decision to approve the wind farm is no surprise.

Friends of the Earth would hope VCAT take the ruling of the PAC into account when deciding the fate of the Cherry Tree Range proposal. Continue reading “Planning body dismisses anti-wind farm lobby claims. Will VCAT follow suit?”

Anti-wind laws keep unsustainable coal power online

FB Y2R GraphicVictoria’s brown coal sector is in a state of crisis.

The Latrobe Valley Express newspaper revealed that the river diversion at the Yallourn coal mine has once again failed, spilling millions of litres of fresh river water into the open pit.

“River water is cascading into Yallourn open cut once again,” writes The Latrobe Valley Express, “pushing a coal supply conveyor to the brink of inoperability.”

“Hundreds of millions of litres of water have been flooding into Yallourn’s East Field mine every day since late last week, after ongoing localised rainfall pushed the mine’s water management plan to its limits.”

“As of Friday, the East Field mine contained a gigalitre of water, and was taking on 300 megalitres every day, an intake rate which was expected to increase over the weekend.”

Coal is an unsustainable energy source.

Wind farms can end Victoria’s reliance polluting and unsustainable fossil fuels, yet anti-wind farm laws introduced by Ted Baillieu and endorsed by Premier Napthine stand in the way.  Continue reading “Anti-wind laws keep unsustainable coal power online”

Successful BEAM, Y2R partnership in Central Victoria

On August 17, Leigh Ewbank of Yes 2 Renewables was a proud guest presenter at the BEAM-Mitchell Environment Group‘s annual general meeting. The event featured presentations on local food and biodiversity links within the shire, and was attended by three local councillors keen to find out more about the group.

Yes 2 Renewables joined dedicated BEAM members organising distribution of a wind energy fact sheet.

Late last year, Yes 2 Renewables and the BEAM-Mitchell Environment Group partnered up to fight back against an anti-wind farm scare campaign. Out-going vice president of BEAM, Peter Lockyer, had the following to say about the partnership: Continue reading “Successful BEAM, Y2R partnership in Central Victoria”