NSW Labour parliamentarian Steve Whan has accused conservative MPs of hypocrisy in their attack on wind farms around Canberra. Photo: Graham Tidy
NSW Labor parliamentarian Steve Whan has accused conservative MPs of hypocrisy in their attack on wind farms around Canberra, after three NSW conservatives and the federal member for Hume staged a protest on top of Red Hill this week.
Canberra is soon to auction 200mw of wind generation to power 80,000 households in the capital. The plan has reinvigorated wind farm companies, which are competing for a share in the guaranteed 20-year deal. But it has divided rural NSW, with farmers making money from hosting wind farms on their properties but neighbours incensed at the prospect of forests of massive turbines.
State member for Goulburn Pru Goward said on Tuesday if Canberra wanted wind farms it should build them on Red Hill not in NSW farming areas. But Mr Whan, opposition spokesman on resources based in Queanbeyan, dismissed the MPs' protest as a ''bizarre bit of politically partisan theatre''.
The wind farms were in NSW and so approved by the NSW government, not the ACT government, he said. It was the NSW government that had the power to ensure they did not damage rural communities.
''It really a bit rich for them to trot into the ACT and say it's the ACT government's fault when they're the ones in government that can say yes or no to them,'' he said. He conceded wind farms were controversial, with many people in country NSW opposed, but said the concerns should be dealt with by NSW.
''A government which is looking at it sensibly would say, 'How can we spread the benefits around? What is the community getting from this project? Is there more that we can get from them?''' he said.
Mr Whan accused the NSW MPs of appealing to nimbyism. ''I don't think we can accept the argument from these people that electricity generation should all happen somewhere else. Do they think that it's OK for people in the Hunter Valley to have coal-fired power stations near them and for us to blithely enjoy the fruits of that?'' he said.
''It's not a blanket position one way or another. Each project should be judged on its merits, and as with any development there's a right and wrong place, and the right place in my view, is broad-acre agricultural.''
Many country people supported the wind farms and for farmers who hosted them they made their farms viable. ''A lot of people in this region want the government to address climate change as well and are concerned that NSW not only opposes wind farms but also refuses to have a feed-in tariff for solar. And it is making it very clear that they are not willing to take action to increase the share of renewables.''