The Greens have denied any inconsistency between their support for giving farmers the right to block coal seam gas projects and opposition to restrictions on new wind farms.
On Thursday, about 100 anti-CSG protesters blocked the public entry to federal Parliament with the support of the Greens. The protest followed a rally earlier in the week by anti-wind farm groups.
But while Greens support land-holder rights in relation to CSG, they have opposed farmers seeking to block wind projects. Greens environment spokeswoman Larissa Waters said unlike CSG, there was no credible scientific evidence that wind farms posed a risk to the environment and health.
“The Greens have always maintained that all developments be subjected to environmental and planning laws, including community consultation,” Senator Waters said.
“We support the continued need for land-holder permission for wind farms, but do not think the science justifies an additional arbitrary six kilometre exclusion zone for wind farms around residences.”
But Queensland independent Bob Katter, who attended the anti-wind farm and anti-CSG rallies, said he “absolutely” supported the right of communities to block CSG and wind farms.
“We have been constantly tenaciously opposed [to a wind farm] at Mareeba,” Mr Katter said.
“It’s right in the middle of a populated area, an area very likely to grow in population. This is a very serious nuisance – in the legal use of the word – and should fall over on the basis of legality.”
In Victoria, companies need to obtain the written consent of any owner of a dwelling within two kilometres of a turbine, and there is a five kilometre ban around major regional centres. In NSW, a similar exclusion zone – two kilometres – exists in relation to CSG projects but there is a campaign to expand it.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the long-term impact of short-term thinking around energy policy was one of the most important issues confronting Australian industry.
“The myriad of interest groups lining up against alternative sources of new energy supply, whether in wind or alternative sources of gas for instance, highlights the risks that arise when governments overreact to self-interested, ‘not in my backyard’ squeaky wheels and undervalues broader community interests,” Mr Willox said.
A spokesman for the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association said the Greens also needed to support the right of land-holders to allow a CSG project on their property. “The Greens have an established history of blockading natural gas activities at properties where the land-holders have been happy for the work to proceed,” he said. “Their public posturing as ‘the farmers’ friend’ is a fraudulent claim, as history shows they are more than willing to lock the gate on farmers who don’t share their views.
Former federal Liberal Party Minister Peter Reith, who is leading a review of gas supply for the Victorian government, said there was a potential gas supply crisis.
“There is a supply issue coming, there is already one because we have already seen prices rising a bit.”
“Governments need to be asking the question ‘are we doing all that we can in regards to our circumstances’ ”.
EnergyAustralia chief executive Richard McIndoe told a Committee for the Economic Development of Australia event in Melbourne that retailers could take a more active role in the debate on unconventional gas given they ended up “bearing the brunt” of consumer unhappiness over rising gas prices.
He said the electricity sector had proven much more effective at communicating the impact of issues such as the carbon price to the public.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding