Crossbenchers are set to demand the government shut wind power out of a portion of Australia’s renewable energy target, in exchange for backing the inclusion of native timber burning.
Liberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm, Family First senator Bob Day and independent John Madigan will support the government’s proposal to bring wood waste into the scheme, but could seek conditions that would reserve part of the 33,000 gigawatt-hour target for solar and hydro power only.
The three senators are vocal opponents of wind turbines and sit on a parliamentary committee examining their health effects that held public hearings in Canberra on Tuesday.
Solar lobby group the Australian Solar Council has said that because the costs of large-scale solar are not expected to fall rapidly until 2018, 2019 and 2020, the wind industry will be the biggest beneficiary from a reduced target by getting an early run on projects.
The government needs the crossbench to pass its plan to include native timber burning as Labor and the Greens are opposed.
Palmer United Party senator Zhenya “Dio” Wang said he would also vote against the move. However, Jacqui Lambie is in favour and her office said she would support a proposal to reserve some of the target for wind and solar.
Senator Leyonhjelm said: “We think there are a couple of things we could seek from the government: one would be reserving a degree of the target for additional hydro and additional solar so that it won’t all be taken by wind.”
He said the senators were also talking about conditions they could seek for wind power to “prevent people from getting sick”.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale said he feared this could see the Senate debate being sidetracked by views that were anti-science.
“The first place to start is that there is not one medical scientific body anywhere in the world that accepts wind turbines cause physiological illness,” he said.
“What’s really most disappointing in this is that it’s the aggressive anti-wind stance adopted by politicians and some members of the community that spreads alarm … and is a potential cause for some of the symptoms people experience.”
Independent senator Nick Xenophon said he was concerned solar and hydro projects could be “crowded out” of the renewable energy scheme by wind power.
He said he supported including wood waste, but conditions would need to incorporate protections for native habitat and other safeguards.
“Instinctively, I think there’s a place for wood waste,” he said.
“I’d want to see what the safeguards are to make sure it’s genuine wood waste, the environment benefits and not an excuse to use wood chips.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding