Tony Abbott is making a lot of headlines at the moment over comments he made regarding wind turbines and the Renewable Energy Target (RET) recently on a talk show with Alan Jones.
The RET was an agreement reached during the Howard government and increased during the Gillard government to commit to generating 20% of Australia’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. This was set at 41,000 GWh by 2020. The Abbott government has tried to cut this target to 26,000 GWh calling this a “real” 20%. After over a year of negation a new agreement has been reached for a revised RET of 33,000 GWh.
The video below from Fairfax Media includes excerpts of his talk with Alan Jones, in which Tony Abbott has claimed that wind turbines are “visually awful” and noisy. He admitted during the interview that his aim had been not only to reduce the RET, but to stop the industry growing, saying they have managed to “… reduce the growth rate of this particular sector as much as the current Senate would allow us to do”
The Guardian ran a poll of which is more visually awful, a coal mine or a wind farm. By the time the poll closed on the 14th of June, 96% of respondents felt that the coal mine was more visually awful.
As well as being “visually awful”, Tony Abbott also claimed “they made a lot of noise” and implied that they caused health problems for residents living near them. The turbine that Mr Abbott was referring to is a single turbine on Rottnest island in WA. According to thre island authority and Australia Tourism minister Kim Hames, 550,000 people visit the island each year which is home to 200 residents. The nearest house is 395m away and the nearest road is 175m. Since the turbine was installed in 2004 it has produced 35% of the islands power and saved about $350,000 each year. In that time no complaints have been made about its noise or its looks.
Newer turbine technology is even quieter then these older turbines. TrustPower the developer behind South Australia’s largest wind farm say they haven’t had any opposition or complaint regarding the Snowtown wind farm and that it co-exists well with the local community and their new generation turbines make no noise.
As far as health concerns go, the Australian medical association issued a statement in March 2014 regarding wind farms and health in which they stated that the available evidence does not support the view that wind farms cause any health concerns. You can read their statement here.
Tony Abbotts love for coal is well known. At a speech in central Queensland last year he said “Coal is good for humanity, coal is good for prosperity, and coal is the world’s principal energy source and it will be for many decades to come.” This position is at odds with the rest of the world, with the leaders of the G7, the worlds seven biggest economies, agreeing recently to phase out the use of fossil fuels for energy use by 2100.
- Australian Medical Association
- The Guardian Coal Vs Wind Poll
- WA Today – Tony Abbotts Complaints about Rottnest Wind Turbine is the first ever
- WA Today – Prime minister intent on ignoring the way the winds blowing
- ABC – Wind Developers Disappointed
- ABC – Abbott wants to reduce wind farms wishes RET never implemented
- Australian Financial Review – PM Admits Plan to sink RET