Two days before Christmas NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard released a draft of “the toughest guidelines in the world” for wind farm developments in this State (details of where to find a copy at the end of this post). CANWin member David Tranter kicks off our discussions in this post. You can click “Leave a comment” (under the title) to add your thoughts.
The NSW Government Draft Wind Turbine Strategy states that it supports Australia’s commitment to deliver 20% of the nation’s energy needs by 2020. If this is true, then the primary goal of the strategy should be to establish a level playing field. Up till now, fossil fuel industries have been implicitly subsidized by allowing them to offload their environmental costs to society.
The Government’s proposed Wind Farm Strategy doesn’t just perpetuate that inequity; it exacerbates it. It proposes an elaborate system of regulations for wind farms, which is not applied in equal measure to fossil fuel industries and will eventually prove to be counter-productive. How could any reasonable person believe that a wind turbine is more unsightly than high voltage transmission towers and power lines snaking inexorably across the rural landscape?
Could Government be attempting to pick winners? Why are the regulations it proposes for wind turbines not being applied to coal seam gas installations? Apart from rupturing the integrity of the Australian Artesian Basin, the life-blood of the inland, coal seam bores leak methane into the atmosphere. Since methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, the industry’s claim that it is cleaner than coal is open to question.
Is there some hidden agenda here? It beggars belief that government could be so careless or irrational. Is it possible that the well-heeled, coal-seam gas lobby sees the embryonic wind turbine industry as a potential rival? Is it lobbying government heavily to cripple the development of wind power on the grounds of trumped-up, turbine-specific public concern?
You can download the draft guidelines from the “On Exhibition” page on the Dept of Planning website. Copies are also on exhibition until 14 March 2012 at the department’s Sydney office (23-33 Bridge St. Phone 9228 6416) and its regional offices (addresses and phone numbers on the Department’s website) and regional councils.