From the lounge room window of their Tarago home in the NSW southern tablelands, the Corrigan family will soon see 33 windfarm turbines, and from daughter Sue’s bedroom they will see 30 more.
Ruth Corrigan and her husband Rod have spent the past 20 years regenerating their property, which is home to endangered species and native grasslands.
“We’re not worried about the view, we’re concerned about environmental issues, the roads that will be built, the impact on the water table and the effect on bird life,” said Ruth. “This is a flight path between Lake Bathurst and Lake George for waterbirds, and we have eagles and falcons.”
Despite opposition from residents and environmental concerns, NSW Premier Morris Iemma yesterday announced approval of the new $220 million wind farm in the notionally Liberal-held state seat of Goulburn, to be contested by Pru Goward for the Liberals in next year’s poll.
Weereewa Heritage Committee member Christine James said the 63 turbines would be as tall as 40-storey buildings and were not appropriate for such an environmentally significant region.
The Weereewa project is likely to be the first of about 1200 giant wind turbines that will be required in NSW if ambitious renewable energy targets, outlined yesterday in a green pre-election pitch by Mr Iemma, are to be met.
Industry attacked the mandatory renewable energy targets of 10 per cent of electricity consumed in NSW by 2010 and 15 per cent by 2020, claiming they were expensive, inefficient and politically motivated.
Environmentalists and the renewable energy industry welcomed the targets, claiming they would drive investment in renewable technologies while cutting emissions by 86 million tonnes.
Energy Users Association director Roman Domanski estimates the targets will cost NSW up to $2 billion and increase power costs by as much as 25 per cent. “This is an ad hoc and unco-ordinated attempt to deal with greenhouse emissions and adds to pre-existing schemes,” he said.
“There’s already been a lot of business moving north to Queensland, and this sort of scheme will only increase that.”
Electricity generators estimate the scheme will cost about $47 per tonne of greenhouse gas abated, which is nearly double the price of carbon under the European emissions trading scheme.
Energy Supply Association director Brad Page said wind turbines would almost certainly be needed to provide most of the renewable power, requiring a minimum of 1200 turbines across the state.
By Selina Mitchell and Matthew Warren
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