Farmers’ right to choose wind

IT is no secret that life on the land is getting tougher.

Our farmers suffer the cruel effects of drought, fires and floods.

Responding to changing market dynamics, consumer demands and weather conditions by diversifying into different crops, livestock and land uses can save the family farm.

It would be a brave outsider who demanded the removal of farmers’ rights to make those choices for themselves. Yet that is what antiwind farm activists like Alan and Colleen Watts are doing.

They are saying individual farmers should not have the right to choose wind farming to help them drought-proof their properties, make better use of marginal farming land, or insure against market downturns. They are failing to recognise that for those farmers fortunate enough to live in some of the windiest places in the world, farming the wind can be the best option.

And those farmers are not the only ones who benefit. Wind farms also provide jobs for local communities and contractors, as well as an economic boost for struggling regional areas.

At the Capital Wind Farm near Canberra, about $10 million went straight into the pockets of locals during construction. It went into the corner store, the local restaurant, motels and more.

Of course, appropriate regulations and community consultation should apply to any wind farm, as with any other piece of infrastructure farmers may choose - be it a new dairy, a tourist development, a road, a dam or a mine. Wind farms in Australia face the toughest guidelines anywhere in the world in relation to their siting, operation and permissible noise levels.

And consider this: Australia’s 1345 wind turbines generate enough power for around one million (or roughly one in eight) Australian households. If we are to move to a cleaner energy mix - then wind energy is one of the cheapest sources we can roll out on a large scale.

More than 200,000 wind turbines have been built across the globe, and many of them are close to people’s homes. But no credible study anywhere in the world has found that wind turbines can directly cause health problems.

Farmers should have the right to farm the wind to secure the future of their livelihoods and their families. Taking away this right would put our local farmers at a competitive disadvantage compared to the rest of the world, at a time when they most need extra support .

Lisa Taylor,

Clean Energy Council

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