The Renewable Energy Revolution and Gippsland

(Weekly Times)

Under the heading ‘Wind Farms Fan Unrest” the Weekly Times (19.9) had an article documenting the ‘community unrest’ against wind farms. A few things are noticeable about the article including the paucity of developments in Gippsland, the bias of a purportedly even debate against wind, and the lack of any mention of climate change. The article begins with the statement “A renewable energy revolution is under way in regional Victoria, with the fault lines between industry and landholders becoming more pronounced.”

The article then lists the various projects and quotes from State Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio with a reply from Opposition spokesman David Southwick. Despite the sub heading ‘Community Opposition’ there is nothing about this in the article at all or even of the ‘fault lines’ between industry and landholders. It is in an adjacent article “Plans for Turbines draws more ire” which covers the opposition to the project at Mortlake where a petition – presumably against the project – has 400 signatures.

Nowhere in either article is there to be found the voice of any of the landowners who has agreed to have the turbines on their properties, about how they are drought proofing their farms and how their communities will directly benefit from extra income and employment. Nowhere are the two words “climate change” mentioned or how this revolution is necessary to help Australia meet its Paris Agreement commitments.

One suspects here a few disgruntled landowners, the influence of pressure groups, and perhaps even editorial direction from above. Rupert Murdoch is rumoured to dislike wind generators and News Corp publications have been recently criticised for either the lack of information on, or opposition to anything related to, climate change. Also many in the bush are still failing to link extreme weather such as droughts and heatwaves with climate change.

Finally there is for Gippsland only the one project – the Star of the South offshore wind arm in South Gippsland still awaiting planning permits. The map (above) does not bother to include East Gippsland as there is no project to list, though there is at least one small solar farm on the drawing board. Both the state representatives for Gippsland East and South Gippsland are Nationals. They belong to a party that is promoting coal and is anti-renewable energy. Tim Bull member for Gippsland East has yet to accede that the climate change we are experiencing is man-made. As far as I am aware neither he nor the member for South Gippsland has made any gesture to support local projects of this sort.

Despite any opposition there can be little doubt that these projects will benefit the bush both in the short and the long term. They are also the start of many moves that must be made to mitigate climate change and therefore also a bonus. It is sad that our local members and their supporters cannot see this.