ACT News

Fresh hope for more turbines near Canberra as runners flock to wind run

ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell​ believes more federal government support for renewable energy triggered by Malcolm Turnbull's rise to power will likely pave the way for more wind farms in the Canberra region. 

Mr Corbell was among nearly 600 runners who took part in five and 10-kilometre courses at the fourth annual Run with the Wind event at Infigen Energy's Woodlawn Wind Farm on Sunday.

Runners beneath the turbines of the Woodlawn Wind Farm near Tarago on Sunday.
Runners beneath the turbines of the Woodlawn Wind Farm near Tarago on Sunday.  Photo: Graham Tidy

Participants made their way along a track beneath the line of spinning turbines perched high above Lake George, north of Bungendore, in an event designed to promote fitness and renewable energy.

Mr Corbell said he was encouraged the Liberal Party's new leadership team had shown signs of a more moderate view towards wind power.

Participants could choose between a five or 10 kilometre run.
Participants could choose between a five or 10 kilometre run.  Photo: Graham Tidy

"The hostility of Tony Abbott was a significant factor in a number of companies choosing to exit the Australian market, it was a significant factor in lack of investment in renewable energy generally, and wind generation in particular."

But Mr Corbell said proof of a more supportive view would be seen in greater investment in the renewable energy sector and in the construction of planned wind farms, which he believed "would appear much more likely" to now go ahead.


"Obviously that will needs to drive a new level of development specifically and hopefully the change of leadership in the federal Liberal Party will give investors confidence to invest."

Planned wind farm projects in the Canberra region that had stalled without funding received fresh hope when Mr Corbell announced in July that a second wind auction would be held this year.

"From the ACT's perspective, we know that our auction process does give people confidence to invest and we're expecting a strong range of bids for the next 200 megawatts of energy."

The latest auction closes this week and would bring the ACT closer to its meeting its target of renewables producing 90 per cent of the city's energy by 2020.

The ACT opposition has criticised the extra cost residents would pay on their power bills to pay for wind energy, but Mr Corbell believed Canberrans overall were "very, very supportive" of large-scale renewable energy projects. 

Last year's fun run took place amid a less supportive federal government attitude towards wind farms, with then-prime minister Mr Abbott describing them as "visually awful" and former treasurer Joe Hockey calling the turbines "utterly offensive".

Mr Turnbull has not yet flagged any changes to the renewable energy target, but Australian Wind Alliance national co-ordinator Andrew Bray said his leadership team had prompted "a lot more optimism" in the sector. 

"They're sending strong signals to the market that wind farms are welcome in Australia."

Mr Bray said more turbines built near the capital would be a significant boon to the region's construction industry.

"There are many projects that have needed development approval for three, four, five years that we hope to see starting to get financial approval."

Sunday's event was part of National Wind Farm Open Day events across Australia. 

Canberra runner Mark Bourne was the winner of the 10-kilometre event.