Published by Climate Spectator.


In 2012, King Islanders were trusted to determine the fate of a proposed wind farm. On Monday, the results of a community vote were announced.

Despite an aggressive scare campaign backed by wealthy NIMBYs and big PR, a clear majority of the community voted for a feasibility study into a 600MW wind farm proposed by HydroTasmania. The result shows that King Islanders won’t be fooled by anti-wind energy spin.

The two-year feasibility study will examine the economic, technical and environmental aspects of the wind farm proposal. The community will now be able to get all the information to needed to make an informed choice about the wind farm proposal.

The green light for the feasibility study is great news for King Islanders and their economy.

With the closure of its abattoir in late 2012, a shrinking population and increased shipping costs, the Island desperately needs a new economic lifeline. That hope may come from the proposed TasWind wind farm.

If the 200-turbine project proves viable, the investment, income and employment it would generate could rejuvenate the economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Published by the Geelong Advertiser

Breamlea Wind TurbineGeelong and the Bellarine Peninsula have played a pioneering role when it comes to wind energy in Australia.

25-years ago this month, the blades of Victoria’s first wind turbine started spinning in Breamlea—transforming the steady sea winds into clean electricity for Victorians.

The State Electricity Commission built the Breamlea turbine in 1987 to demonstrate the viability of wind energy in Victoria. We now know the SEC was onto something.

Today there are nine operating wind farms in Victoria. These farms tap the state’s vast wind energy resource to power tens of thousands of homes and businesses without the adverse health and environmental impacts caused by fossil fuels.

Unfortunately the blossoming wind energy sector came to an abrupt halt last year when the Baillieu government introduced heavy-handed planning laws that unfairly targeted wind farms.

The VC-82 amendment to the Victorian planning scheme, effectively bans wind farms from large swathes of Victoria and allow just one objector to veto wind turbine within 2 kilometres.

Meanwhile, no such restrictions apply to coal and coal-seam gas exploration and development. A local example many will be aware of is in Anglesea, where residents have no say over the coalmine and power plant less than 2 kilometres from their town.

Thanks to Premier Baillieu and his Coalition colleagues, Victoria is no longer the place to be for wind energy. Not one single wind farm has been approved in over a year—costing the state thousands of jobs, billions of dollars worth of investment and one of the best tools available for community action on climate change.

Read the rest of this entry »

Published by The Surf Coast Times.

The increased severity of Hurricane Sandy that recently battered the east coast of the United States and Haiti reminds us of the urgent challenge of climate change. When it comes to taking action to reduce our climate change impact, Victoria has a lot of work to do. We have the dubious distinction of being the most polluting state in the most world’s most polluting developed country.

Unfortunately, in 2011, the Baillieu government passed planning laws which unfairly target wind farms. After just 12 months, the evidence shows that these laws have made it incredibly difficult for Victoria to get on with the job of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The laws ban wind farms from large parts of Victoria and allow just one objector to stop any wind turbine within 2km. Meanwhile, no such restrictions apply to coal and coal-seam gas exploration and development. A local example many will be aware of is in Anglesea, where residents have no say over the coalmine and power plant just half a kilometre from their town.

Wind farms create income for farmers and communities. They have no pollution or health hazards like coal. And they are critically important for addressing climate change. We could have new jobs in construction and maintenance right here in Victoria if wind farms were allowed to go ahead.

Victoria has a choice between polluting fossil fuels or a clean energy future. Renewable energy from the wind could power our hospitals, schools and economy, however the current laws stand in the way. Friends of the Earth call on the Baillieu government to give wind farms a fair go. Laws that discriminate against wind energy should be repealed.

When it comes to wind energy whoppers, the Australian Environment Foundation’s Max Rheese has an impeccable record. In last week’s Stock & Land, Rheese claimed wind energy has no economic benefit and alleged  wind turbines have adverse impacts on human health. Such claims are not supported by the evidence.

The Yes 2 Renewables campaign set the record straight in a letter to the editor published in this week’s edition of Stock & Land. It is reproduced below:

Max Rheese of the Australian Environment Foundation and climate change sceptic group, the Australian Climate Science Coalition, has a long track record of making claims about wind farms that are not supported by evidence. Mr Rheese’s comments recently featured in Stock & Land (‘Push to back wind power,’ Nov 1) are no exception.

Mr Rheese’s claim that wind energy has no economic benefit is simply incorrect. And the notion of ‘growing evidence’ of wind turbines adversely affecting human health is misleading.

Wind farms have proven economic benefits for communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Published by the Australian music news site, Faster Louder.

The great challenge of our time, climate change, is driven by our civilization’s use of fossil fuels. Today, modern music and energy go hand in hand, but there are ways in which artists can reduce their sonic footprint.

In a case of art mirroring broader societal trends, musical instruments became increasingly electrified since the late 1800s. While the first wave of experimental electric instruments such as the telharmonium and theremin revealed its potential, it wasn’t until the 1930s when amplification and the electric guitar emerged that would herald the age of electric music.

Yet electric instruments weren’t the technological advances that revolutionised music and entrenched the role of energy in the medium. The emergence of audio recording and hifi gear allowed music to be distributed widely and played on demand, and there’s embodied energy in the CDs/vinyl and even the digital music that we have in our collection (the carbon footprint of the internet is estimated to be as large as the global aviation industry, and it’s growing fast).

Then there’s live performance to consider. Everything from the tour van to the enormous PA systems and lighting rigs of outdoor festivals are predominantly powered by fossil fuels—they therefore result in greenhouse gas emissions entering our atmosphere.

It’s fair to say that without electricity, we wouldn’t have the music we enjoy today—whether it’s the otherworldly guitar tones of Jimi Hendrix, the abrasive sounds of a million punk bands, or the subfrequency bass tones of Dizzy Rascal. And no one wants that to change.

In a world that has grown accustomed to the benefits of electricity, there’s only really one thing to do: replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable forms of electricity—ASAP! That way, when we switch on the amp and crank it up to 11, we can rest assured that we’re not warming our planet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Crossposted at Friends of the Earth’s Yes 2 Renewables blog.

Anti-wind farm lobbyists are an organised bunch. Whenever a wind farm project is proposed, anti-wind energy activists come to town with their traveling propaganda show and a bevy of blow ins.

A few weeks ago, I attended my first such meeting. It was held in Trawool, some 15kms south east of Seymour, where Infigen Energy have proposed a 16 turbine, 50 megawatt wind farm for Cherry Tree Range.

Seasoned anti-wind farm group the Australian Environment Foundation (originally established by the right-wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs) was prominent at the event—which I can report receives top marks for propaganda. The event featured photographs of wind turbines on fire without context; a well-produced video with melodramatic music and sound effects for maximum persuasion; and guest speakers who made spurious claims about the health impacts of wind farms.

I recommend attending these meetings if you ever have the chance. If you have the confidence to ask a few questions or present good news stories about wind farms then you would be doing a service to communities who are the target of a scare campaign.

On September 5, The Seymour Telegraph published the following letter I sent to the Editor:

Read the rest of this entry »

Crossposted at Friends of the Earth’s Yes 2 Renewables blog.

Over the last few weeks the Yes 2 Renewables campaign has been engaged in a public debate with the Liberal party member for South BarwonAndrew Katos MLA. It’ll be of interest to those following renewable energy policy and politics in Victoria, so here’s a run down.

The debate was kick started by a letterboxing initiative Y2R have been undertaking in the South Barwon electorate. Community groups and locals who are passionate about addressing climate change and rolling out renewables have joined us to distribute information about the Baillieu governments anti-wind farm planning lawsThe Geelong Advertiser’s subsequent report on the awareness-raising campaign included statements from Mr Katos about the government’s current planning regime for wind farms. It was these comments by the local member that motivated me to set the record straight with an opinion article, published on August 20.

The Geelong Advertiser published the following rejoinder penned by Mr Katos on September 13:

Read the rest of this entry »

Published by Renew Ecocomy

Ted Baillieu is a Premier in trouble. Since coming to office, he has made a slew of unpopular decisions that have caused his public support to evaporate. Baillieu’s decision to scrap TAFE funding is perhaps the highest profile of these missteps. His anti-wind energy laws, imposed one year, are less well known but are a damaging sleeper issue.

The innocuous-sounding VC82 amendment effectively banned wind farms from operating in large swathes of the state. They establish arbitrary ‘no-go zones’ and allow just one objector to stop any wind turbine within 2km, making Victoria the world’s biggest NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

Our state’s once lucrative pipeline of wind farm projects has been blocked and capital is fleeing interstate. Over the last 12 months, just one development application has been lodged with the department of planning.

Traditionally, the Liberal Party was seen as the party of business and an ally of science and progress. In recent years, it has become captive to a Tea Party-style culture of anti-wind energy and anti-climate science extremism.

If the Premier was riding high in the polls then he could perhaps prosecute the irrational agenda of the anti-wind lobby. But he does not have political capital to spare on such ideological adventurism.

Read the rest of this entry »

Published by The Geelong Advertiser.

Wind energy is one of the cheapest and cleanest sources of electricity around. It creates skilled jobs in manufacturing and construction, reduces our carbon emissions and keeps a lid on energy price rises. Yet in Victoria, some politicians are prepared to ignore the facts and blow hot air on the issue.

The member for South Barwon, Liberal MP Andrew Katos, is no exception (‘Conservation group fans environment debate’, August 14).

Last year the Coalition government introduced anti-wind farm planning laws. The planning amendments—known as the innocuous-sounding VC82—effectively ban wind farms from operating in large swathes of the state. They establish arbitrary ‘no-go zones’ and allow just one objector to stop any wind turbine within 2km.

What’s the reason for these changes? According to the member for South Barwon, it’s to protect “tourist areas” and householders from “sonic disturbance and noise.” While this explanation appears reasonable enough on face value, the member’s claims are not supported by evidence.

Let’s take a closer look at Mr Katos’ claims.

Read the rest of this entry »

Published at the Yes! to Renewables blog. 

Port Augusta residents have voted in favour of renewable energy in a first-of-a-kind plebiscite (ABC News report).

An overwhelming majority, 98 percent of participants, support concentrating solar thermal to replace the city’s aging coal generators. The community has rejected the proposal to replace the Northern and Playford B coal plants with gas. With a meagre 2 percent support, the gas option has gone down in flames.

Repower Port Augusta, the community group who spearheaded the initiative, collected the votes of 4096 Port Augustans. The impressive sample of 28 percent of the population means the pro-renewables result cannot be dismissed.

The Port Augusta poll result tells a strikingly familiar story about public support for renewable energy. It can be seen as a localised expression of a larger trend. In poll after poll, renewable energy is shown to be incredibly popular with Australians.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leigh Ewbank

Climate and energy writer based in Melbourne, Australia.




Creative Commons License All blogs presented on this site,, by Leigh Ewbank are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License

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