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Madigan-led Senate wind report slammed for bias

The wind industry, federal opposition and members of the scientific community have attacked the Senate report into wind turbines for its supposed bias.

Ballarat senator John Madigan chaired the committee that authored the report, which was released on Monday.

National Wind Alliance coordinator Andrew Bray said the report would be laughable if the government had not supported parts of it.

“The federal environment minister Greg Hunt has said he will support the idea of a federal wind commissioner,” he said.

Mr Hunt said they would not support other recommendations such as those calling for changes to the Renewal Energy Target.

Mr Bray said the committee, which included two other crossbenchers, a government senator and a dissenting Labor senator, had missed an opportunity to improve oversight of the industry.

“There are improvements that could be made in regulation, such as more arm’s length monitoring of wind farm noise,” he said.

The report called for greater scientific study of the effects of wind farms, but Mr Bray said it ignored an existing body of evidence that did not fit its narrative.

“It denigrated any voices that didn’t agree with their anti-wind starting point, like the National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Medical Association,” he said.

The report asked for greater research into “risks to individual and community health and wellbeing associated with wind turbine projects”.

Mr Bray said this type of research had just been conducted in Canada and was not included despite being submitted by several different bodies.

Senator Madigan responded to the backlash on Tuesday, telling The Courier in a statement critics were “ideologically motivated”.

“The work of the committee has long been subject to criticism by activists who appear to believe that in light of its status as a renewable energy source, the wind industry should be exempt from the usual regulatory governance processes,” he said.

“Two prominent critics whose views have been reported by the media are the Clean Energy Council and Professor Simon Chapman.”

The CEC said the leaking of the report to the Australian last week showed the whole inquiry was “a biased political stitch-up by a small group of senators opposed to the cheapest forms of renewable energy”.

Senator Madigan said Professor Chapman’s answers to his questions on notice, including whether he knew Ararat Wind Farm would be near a prison, were also ideologically based.

“Professor Chapman’s responses to questions on notice put to him by the Committee reflect his broader attitude to the Committee’s work,” he said.

“This appears to be informed more by his ideological position on the question of human induced climate change than a serious consideration of the questions the committee was formed to consider.”