Wind farm opponents in minority: proponent
A windfarm at Crookwell. Photo: Andrew Taylor
Grazier Charlie Prell says a noisy minority opposed to wind farms in the Canberra region does not represent more than 70 per cent of people in his shire who support them.
He chaired a meeting of 100 farmers, lawyers and earth-moving contractors at Yass last week with the aim of forming a landholders' network to foster wind and solar farms.
About 50 protesters gathered outside, angry that they had been barred from the meeting.
Mr Prell was unapologetic. ''We deliberately made it invite only because we wanted to have good exchange of information and ideas without getting subverted and distracted by the divisive tactics of the anti-wind farm lobby,'' he said.
Multinational energy companies are either building or planning billions of dollars worth of wind farms in the Yass, Goulburn and Canberra districts.
Mr Prell said a survey some years ago in the Lachlan Valley showed that 71 per cent of people supported more wind farms. He believes the percentage is bigger among farmers.
Yass farmer Mark Glover, who organised the protest against Mr Prell's gathering, said wind energy companies were not transparent, their turbines had the potential to become redundant, and they were heavily subsidised.
Angus Taylor, the Liberal candidate for the safe Liberal-held seat of Hume, which covers much of the district targeted by wind energy companies, including Mr Prell's Crookwell property, has issued a policy paper challenging the renewable energy target, or RET.
Mr Taylor told The Australian Financial Review that restructuring the RET could save money, achieve the same emissions reductions and remove conflict over wind farms.
Mr Prell said the Howard government had adopted the target of 20 per cent of power from renewable energy by 2020, which was a bipartisan decision.
''If Angus Taylor wants to talk about subsidies for renewable energy, he's going to have to talk to his own party about changing that policy.
''He should also talk about the amount of subsidies to the coal industry, through coalmines and coal-fired power stations.''
Mr Prell is negotiating with the Spanish operator Union Fenosa to host turbines on his farm. He said in the unlikely event they abandoned turbines on his property, he would be unconcerned.
He said a scrap metal merchant would pay him for the materials, as well as the dismantling costs.
''Frankly, I think in this area wind farms and solar farms are going to be part of the future - 20, or 30 or 50 years from now. It is long-term thinking.
''I am happy [that] what I am doing is part of a positive outcome for the future, both in maintaining my land in a stable way from the income I get, and also by contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming,'' Mr Prell said.