End of Tony Abbott's war on wind farms gives green light to Capital Region projects

End of Tony Abbott's war on wind farms gives green light to Capital Region projects

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's decision to lift Tony Abbott's controversial ban on government investment in wind power has been embraced by the Australian Capital Region farming community.

On Sunday, Fairfax Media revealed Environment Minister Greg Hunt has issued the Clean Energy Finance Corporation with new orders that negate the Abbott government's June decree, which prohibited the $10 billion green bank from investing in new wind power projects.

The unwinding of Abbott's "war on wind" is good news for wind farms across the Capital Region.

The unwinding of Abbott's "war on wind" is good news for wind farms across the Capital Region.Credit:AP

The move gives the Clean Energy Finance Corporation the green light to fund many wind farms in the Southern Tablelands – one of Australia's fastest growing wind investment regions – enabling them to progress from planning to construction.


Crookwell farmer and NSW regional organiser for the Australian Wind Alliance, Charlie Prell, said wind farms now able to access funding include Collector, Rye Park, Yass Valley, Bango, Rugby, Crookwell two and three, Capital two, and Boco two.

"All of these wind farms will contribute massively to the local economy, not only during construction, but over the life of the wind farms," Mr Prell said.

"It's giving farmers in these regions a passive income stream with making our operations more sustainable, financially and environmentally, and giving local businesses the opportunity to participate in construction activities."

Under the new mandate, the corporation will be allowed to invest in any wind projects provided they involve "emerging and innovative" technology, although it does encourage it to "focus on offshore wind technologies".

Mr Prell said the wind farms already operating in this area have contributed significantly to small business, particularly in Goulburn, Bungendore, Taralga and Crookwell.

The unwinding of the Abbott government's "war on wind" comes as a landmark international agreement is reached to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

"As a consequence of the agreement in Paris, the government is serious about reducing emissions in Australia and wind farms can play a huge role in that reduction," Mr Prell said.

"It's a relief for me and welcomed as a human being on this planet."

Young NSW farmers, Anika Molesworth and Josh Gilbert, who crowdfunded their way to Paris to participate in the climate talks, said the the Paris Agreement is just the beginning.

"Now that an agreement has been reached, our government must explain how it is going to deliver on its national target to reduce emissions and help regional Australia continue to innovate and reap the benefits," Mr Gilbert said.

The government's next vital step in boosting confidence in the sector would be to remove legislation to abolish the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Mr Prell said.

In July, Mr Abbott said, "if the projects stack up economically, there's no reason why they can't be supported in the usual way". However the abolition attempt was blocked twice by the Senate.

Mr Prell also stressed the need to cut the $4 billion spent on fossil fuel subsidies and allow renewable projects to compete with coal on an equal playing field.

Clare Sibthorpe is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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