Will the Liberals Kill Wind Energy Investment, Jobs?

MEDIA RELEASE - 12 March 2014

South Australia is a national leader when it comes to renewable energy. Wind energy and more recently roof top solar has boomed in the state.  

With the state heading to the polls this weekend, Friends of the Earth are concerned a change of government will affect South Australia's incredible energy transition. 

Liberal party candidate for Frome, Kendall Jackson, in on the record supporting restrictions on wind farm developments:

In regards to wind farms, the Liberal team is supportive of our local communities and ensuring local farmers are not unnecessarily disadvantaged by power station development. We believe there should be adequate distance between peoples homes and wind turbines -- five kilometres from towns and two kilometres from homes.

"The 'adequate distance' suggested by the Liberal party candidate are arbitrary," says Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth's renewable energy spokesperson. 

"It makes no reference to objective factors such as noise standards, acoustic modelling, turbine type, community support or environment/biodiversity considerations."

"A mandatory setback distance of five kilometres from towns would have prevented the Hallett 2, Waterloo, and also Wattle Point wind farms from being build. These projects created jobs and deliver drought-proof income for farmers."

The restrictions on wind farm development that appears to be South Australian Liberal party policy mirrors measures adopted in Victoria  in 2011.

The Baillieu government's strict anti-wind farm laws have decimated the Victorian wind energy sector. Just 24 turbines have been approved under the Coalition. This compares unfavourably with the Victorian Labor party's track record. The Mount Mercer wind farm, approved under Labor, has 64 turbines--more than double what the Coalition has delivered.

One only has to look at the Victorian experience to see that restrictions on wind farms will cost South Australia investment and jobs. The Baillieu anti wind-farm laws have cost:

  • Around $887 million in lost or stalled investment
  • 650 direct jobs lost or stalled in construction
  • 54 on-going jobs in management of wind farms
  • 1408 indirectly associated (flow-on) jobs.

"For a long time, South Australia's economy has boomed from its rich wind resource and sensible planning framework," said Leigh Ewbank.

"At a time when the economy is shedding jobs, particularly in manufacturing, Australia needs all the jobs it can get." 

"Arbitrary restrictions on wind farms is a backwards step that will kill investment and job opportunities."