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Local mum stands up for her community

The media loves controversy. The public loves it. Politicians and lobbyists alike use controversy to stall, scuttle and direct any debate or outcome to suit their purposes. But few things on our national agenda are subject to the tactics of controversy and manipulation more forcefully than wind farms.

Spare a thought for those ordinary folk living day to day under the spotlight of this often orchestrated controversy.

Wind farm country is regional Australia. Regional communities are often small and closely knit with a fabric that goes back generations as well as new threads. People know each other in regional Australia. They work together, play together, have long memories, celebrate and mourn together. When local people are subjected to misinformation about the risks of wind farms, the anxiety, divisions and mistrust that follow threatens the fabric that holds these communities together.

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Dimity Taylor, young mother of three and neighbour to Gullen Range Wind Farm near Goulburn is in touch with the consequences to communities of wind farm controversy. She has watched with awe the building of the turbines within 1.7 km of her home and also with sadness as her community becomes a battleground of wind politics.

The behaviour that worries her most is silence. She sees the majority in her community speaking their support in whispers to avoid coming under fire from wind farm opponents, some with significant political influence. This pressure is tolerable in the short term but in the long term threatens to suck the courage, diversity and hope out of regional communities.

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Ararat pops the cork!

The town of Ararat is celebrating today with the announcement that the 75 turbine Ararat Wind Farm will commence construction next month. For many years, Ararat has been a fervent supporter of wind energy, as they demonstrated at our forum in nearby Crowlands last year, so the benefits that will flow from this $450 million project are richly deserved.

The project will provide 285 jobs and inject $7-8 million into the town during the construction phase. A $2 million community fund will be created and 123,000 homes will be powered with clean energy.

Local mayor, Paul Hooper (that's him on the left of the photo), said "The opportunity for 42 landowners to drought-proof their properties is of enormous benefit to them," Mr Hooper said, adding that there had been "zero complaints" about the proposal from locals.

 

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AWA joins 50 groups to call for a carbon pollution free Australia

20150616_51_group_logos_graphic.jpgThe Australian Wind Alliance is one of 51 diverse groups calling for Australia to transition quickly to a low carbon future - including  renewables - or be hurt economically.

Representatives of the groups met at Parliament House to present a letter to politicians today, with a move towards a carbon pollution-free Australia the primary focus of the joint statement.

We are alongside the Environmental Farmers Network, Oxfam, Melbourne City Mission, the Australian Women's Health Network, the Australian Council of Social Services, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and the Australian Firefighters Climate Alliance - and many other organisation - calling on politicians to "take on responsibility to do more to cut Australia's carbon pollution and do our fair share to limit global warming." 

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Farmer and earth mover have voices heard

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When John DeGroote and Charlie Prell spoke up for small business and farming in the Goulburn region at a Senate hearing in Canberra earlier this week they knew they had many people behind them. John and Charlie are Australian Wind Alliance members who are both based in the Goulburn region.

Divalls Earthmoving chief engineer John DeGroote has worked at wind farm sites for the past few years, and told the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines, “I know the significance of the wind industry for construction and haulage, but also for all the small to medium businesses in the regional supply chain. I am speaking up for them, not just Divalls.”

“When it comes to the question of health effects, unemployment is a much greater threat to the health of local people than wind turbines. In the last two years of wind farm construction I have seen only positive health impacts on our workforce,” he said.

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A RET at last

Cartoon_resized_May_2015.JPGThe nightmare that was the RET Review is over. As of the 18th May we have a bipartisan agreement of 33,000GW by 2020 with no biannual reviews and the inclusion of biomass still to be considered. The previous bipartisan RET has been reduced by 20% with trade exposed industries exempt. A Renewable Energy Target will now be put to the Senate.

But let’s not move on too quickly. Just pause to think about how costly this whole “Review” has been to Australia's emission reductions, to regional communities and to the renewable energy industry.

 

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Senate Wind Inquiry hears a different story

When the current Senate Inquiry into Wind Turbines was launched it showed every sign of being an attack on wind farms and a launching pad for increased regulation of an already heavily regulated industry.

The venerable yet medieval philosophers of the Flat Earth Institute joked that perhaps the Inquiry was better thought of as an Inquisition.

“We proudly endorseth Senator John Madigan’s inquisition into wind energy. It buildeth on our legacy of denying enlightenment and excelling at witch-hunts,” said Professor Greenhausen of the Flat Earth Institute.

 

But truth, as we know, is often stranger than fiction. We've had the first public hearing and now it appears that it actually is an "Inquisition". At least according to the Australian.

 

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Wind at the top of NSW election agenda in Goulburn

With the NSW state election only around two months away, the issue of wind power and renewable energy is appearing on the radar of politicians and voters alike, particularly in regional NSW where renewable resources of wind and solar are in such plentiful supply.

On the 19th January over 80 people, including a number of AWA supporters, crammed into Goulburn’s Tattersalls Pub for the monthly Politics in the Pub. The topic “Powering the Future” saw a broad based line up of speakers including Labor, Greens, Christian Democratic Party (CDP) and Independent candidates for the upcoming NSW State election along with the Mayor of Goulburn Mulwaree Council, representatives from Solar Share (Canberra) and the NSW Nationals.

AWA’s NSW Organiser and local farmer, Charlie Prell joined the speaker line up to make a strong case for the critical role of wind power in shifting Australia to clean energy. Charlie put front and centre the crucial roles played by the Federal Renewable Energy Target and NSW planning policy in driving long term investment in renewables and economic benefits to regions like Goulburn.

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A farmer's plea for the Renewable Energy Target

Actually, this guy is no ordinary farmer. He's one of our NSW organisers, Charlie Prell, who runs a sheep farm in Crookwell, north of Goulburn in NSW. And the other people in the video are the local Mayor and Goulburn business owners who all understand the vital economic importance of renewable energy for their region.

An excellent shoot from GetUp!


Knowing RET from wrong

Our thanks to Matt Grudnoff from the Australia Institute for this excellent summary of where the government finds itself after dumping their deeply unpopular and flawed Warburton Review.

Cross posted with permission from The Australia Institute

The debate over the Renewable Energy Target (RET) has continued with the government facing up to the reality that its scare campaign on electricity prices is in tatters. With the government’s own handpicked review showing that the RET has almost no impact on retail electricity prices, the government’s ramp up about a fight over cost of living pressures and the RET has melted away.

The government has been left with three very weak arguments. Firstly, that the RET is an $11 billion cross subsidy, secondly that the RET is causing an oversupply of electricity and finally the RET needs bipartisan support for certainty.

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Members enjoy Macarthur

Friday 29 November 2013

Macarthur_Nov2013_sml.jpgThis afternoon, a band of eager VicWind members were treated to a tour to the Macarthur Wind Farm in South West Victoria. Site manager, Shaun Harrison was the tour guide, showing us around two turbines – one that was off for maintenance and another one that was operating.

A whole lot of things are not apparent until you get up close.

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