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‘Let turbines rip’

Friday, 19th August, 2011

“The Silverton wind farm would provide a hell of a lot of employment but it is an enormous capital venture,” Mr Clark said.

“Wind energy is not a fringe technology anymore. This is not the 70s or 80s, it is actually a very mature technology.

“The private sector is prepared to invest very large sums of money and provide employment in regional areas but they need a clear signal from government so it would be better if politicians could get out of the way and let them get on with the job.”

Mr Clark was responding to comments made this week by NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell who said in a radio interview that if he had his way the State Government would not approve any applications to build wind turbines.

But local MP John Williams said yesterday that he would back the Silverton proposal to the hilt.

“I am absolutely in favour of it and always have been,” said the Member for Murray-Darling.

“As to the comments by the Premier, they were more related to the east coast than here,” he said.

Mr Williams said he would do all he could to help the Silverton wind farm company, Epuron, get the project up and running.

“Obviously, if they need my support to deal with the Government I am more than happy to provide it,” he said.

Epuron’s proposal appears to have been on the backburner for the last two years and Mr Williams said it might be “waiting on the results of the carbon tax and how that might supplement what they are doing.”

Epuron announced it plans to build a wind farm near Silverton four years ago. Under its $2 billion proposal, about 600 wind turbines would be erected on the Barrier Ranges.

In 2009 the company’s Silverton Wind Farm Development Project signed a lease agreement with landholders covering 32,000 hectares but nothing has happened since.

Mr Clark said part of the problem was that coal companies had a great deal of influence on state governments because of the royalties they put into government coffers. 

The NSW Government had an agreement with the coal companies under which the price has been kept down for 10 years but that agreement was due to expire in two years and then the price rise, he said.

It would therefore be wise for the government to start backing renewable energy now, Mr Clarke said.

“There is a huge upfront cost but once you have made the capital investment you free yourself from the volatility of the cost of other resources,” he said.

“The cost of solar, for example, has been coming down steadily while the cost of fuel has been steadily going up. You have to take a long term view of this.”

 

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Mr O’Farrell told radio station 2GB on Tuesday that the NSW Government had not, since it was elected in March, received any applications from companies seeking to build wind farms. Before the election, 19 applications had been made, he said. 

“(Planning Minister) Brad Hazzard’s made what I think is a good decision to push them over to the Planning Assessment Commission to make sure local concerns are heard, but I’m told that no new applications have been lodged, we haven’t approved any applications and, if I had my way, we wouldn’t.”

Later Mr OFarrell said the comments were his “personal view” and that the government was “committed to its renewable energy target.”  

The target is for one fifth of the State’s energy needs to be drawn from renewable sources by 2020.

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