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Put windfarms on Red Hill, not in NSW, say politicians

Three NSW parliamentarians and the Federal Member for Hume have proposed building wind turbines on Red Hill, and it’s not an April Fools joke.

Federal MP Angus Taylor joined NSW Members Pru Goward, Katrina Hodgkinson and John Barilaro on Red Hill in protest against wind farms being built in their NSW electorates to meet the ACT’s “outrageous” renewable energy target of 90 per cent by 2020.

Ms Goward, the NSW Member for Goulburn said, “If Canberra wants wind farms they should build them here at Red Hill.”

“Instead of looking out of their windows at the beautiful blue Brindabellas with the snow on the mountains, [Canberrans] will look out at hideous turbines.”

The NSW members say the issue of wind turbines has divided their communities.

NSW Member for Burrinjuck Katrina Hodgkinson said the turbines were polarising.

“Some people like them, some people absolutely hate them … What Canberra is proposing to do by having 90 per cent renewable energy by 2020 is actually thrusting many more wind turbines into our local communities,” she said.

“Ninety per cent by 2020 is really quite outrageous – it’s pandering totally to a green movement. It’s unrealistic, it’s impractical and wind turbines are notoriously unreliable as well.”

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said the NSW politicians were making their argument in the wrong place.

“Their gripe is with the NSW government … because these wind farms have been approved under their planning laws, so they’ve gone through all the processes required under law to allow customers – which may be the ACT – to come in and seek business there,” she said.

“For Pru Goward, the area for her to lobby is around the cabinet table where she sits. We are merely here once those approvals are put in place to say ‘Yes, we are interested in purchasing that wind energy’.”

Federal Member for Hume Angus Taylor said that using wind turbines to achieve the targets was “flawed policy” and the ACT was causing angst for neighbours while ensuring more expensive electricity for Canberra for potentially no nett reduction in national carbon emissions.

“We have to pursue the best ways of reducing carbon emissions and … the simple numbers tell us that what is being proposed by the ACT government is three-times more expensive than alternatives for generating electricity, and 10 times more expensive than alternatives for reducing carbon emissions,” he said.

Mr Taylor said it was forseeable the ACT’s reduced emissions would not have an overall impact nationally.

“If the federal government was to adjust its target to reflect the ACT’s target, then Canberrans would pay far more than their fair share … which effectively means this program has zero impact on Australia’s carbon emissions.”

Ms Gallagher labelled his comments a “scare campaign”, noting Canberra electricity prices are about $1000 less per household annually than in Queanbeyan.

“It’s a classic conservative attack line on moving to renewable energies is that nobody is going to be able to afford it, and that just doesn’t stack up here in Canberra,” she said.

“All of the work that we’ve done … show that by the time we get to 90 per cent of our energy being sourced from renewable sources, it will be $4 per week per household in the ACT.

“The debate about climate change, moving to renewable energy sources, cannot be about what’s happening in my back garden.

“In time the actions we’re taking now I think will be vindicated.”