Climate sceptics enter wind farm debate
The anti-wind farm movement that is gaining influence within the NSW parliament is being ''aided and abetted'' by climate sceptic groups and some mining industry figures.
The cabinet debated new wind farm guidelines yesterday, with division over whether NSW should follow Victoria and order wind turbines be set further back from houses.
The Shooters and Fishers Party, which shares the balance of power in the NSW upper house with the Christian Democrats, announced yesterday that it wanted a moratorium on new wind farms in the state.
Industry sources said a campaign was being waged against wind energy in NSW, which was expected to see up to $10 billion in investment this decade as it accelerates to meet the national 20 per cent renewable energy target.
The opponents of wind farms include a coalition of local groups under the banner ''landscape guardians'', and the Australian Environment Foundation.
The foundation's executive director, Max Rheese, said, ''Our role is, if you like, aiding and abetting what the local communities are doing and helping them voice their disapproval over wind farms.''
While local groups say they believe that the noise and vibration produced by wind farms are affecting human health, the Australian Environment Foundation does not think humans have a role in causing climate change and therefore that wind farms are an expensive extravagance.
It hosted British climate sceptic Lord Monckton when he visited last year and says it ''questions the whole science behind anthropogenic global warming''.
Mr Rheese said the foundation had paid for anti-wind signs at public meetings, and lobbied the Shooters and Fishers Party, along with the National and Liberal parties in NSW.
''The AEF is keen to help, because a lot of communities are obviously bewildered when a wind farm proposal arrives out of nowhere,'' he said.
The Shooters and Fishers Party MP, Robert Borsak, said yesterday that it would wait for the Government's cabinet decision, but would use its critical position in the upper house to to oppose any pro-wind farm legislation that comes to parliament. The party had discussed wind farms with the Australian Environment Foundation but had come up with its own policy calling for a moratorium and public inquiry into wind turbines, Mr Borsak said.
''We do probably see eye to eye with them on this and many issues, but this is a party position that we have finalised internally,'' he said.
Premier Barry O'Farrell said in August it was his personal opinion that no new wind farms should be built in NSW, but it is understood their were divisions in cabinet about the issue.
Nationals MP and Roads Minister Duncan Gay said yesterday his anti-wind farm views were well known and said he hoped the outcome of yesterday's meeting ''addresses the sins of the past''.
''I live at Crookwell, we've certainly come under the brunt of poor planning and lack of community consultation of wind farms in the past,'' he said. ''It puts friends against friends, neighbours against neighbours.''
Federal Liberal MP Alby Schultz is also concerned about wind farms. He said incompetent NSW Government ministers who ignored his concerns about noisy wind farms had led him to campaign against his own party.
Mr Schultz, Member for Hume, which includes Crookwell, Yass and Goulburn, says he had gone against his own party because ''somebody has got to stand up for their constituents''.