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Victorian Farmers Federation calls for an end to the renewable energy target

Landholders have hit out at the Victorian Farmers Federation’s calls for the Renewable Energy Target to be scrapped.

The VFF last week backed the removal of the RET, currently being reviewed by the Federal Government, saying farmers were slugged up to an extra 10 per cent on their electricity bills to fund the scheme.

VFF president Peter Tuohey described the RET as “a high-cost approach to reducing emissions”, a position labelled as “peculiar” by the Australian Wind Alliance.

“Speculation around cuts to the RET has killed confidence in the renewable energy industry,” alliance spokesman Andrew Bray said.

“This is going to hit farmers who want to host turbines hard by denying them the potential to derive income from their property.”

Hosting turbines is understood to generate returns of about $10,000 annually per generator for their 25-year-life span.

Ballan farmer Geoff Wells and son Andrew hope to host nine wind turbines on their property as part of the Moorabool Wind Farm. The project to build more than 100 turbines in the Ballan area has been approved but not yet constructed.

Mr Wells said the “substantial boost” to their income would allow him to employ someone locally to help on the farm, something currently unaffordable. He described the VFF’s position as “surprising”.

“It seems unfair for those wishing to participate in a wind farm development,” Mr Wells said.

About 20 approved wind developments are awaiting construction in Victoria.

Last month, Greens Leader Greg Barber said the party wanted to see a Victorian RET reinstated to give certainty to energy companies wanting to start construction on wind farms. The VRET became redundant after the Federal RET was expanded in 2009.

Friends of the Earth renewables spokesman Leigh Ewbank said he was disappointed with the VFF’s “attack” on the RET.

“Wind farms are now delivering jobs and drought-proof income in regional Victoria, thanks to the RET,” Mr Ewbank said. “Surely Mr Tuohey would support a policy that cuts pollution and protects public health.”