Hewson heads energy forum

Former Liberal Party leader John Hewson will be among the main speakers at the forum.

Former Liberal Party leader John Hewson will be among the main speakers at the forum.

FORMER Liberal Party leader John Hewson will head a bipartisan forum into Portland’s renewable energy industry this month to help lift the city’s struggling manufacturing sector. 

The forum follows doubts over future wind farms and the collapse of the world’s largest wave energy project that had been planned off the Portland coast. 

Dr Hewson, state opposition energy spokeswoman Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber and Keppel Prince bosses will speak at the gathering on August 24. 

The Commonwealth’s review into the renewable energy target (RET) is expected to be released any day with some pundits predicting a cut to the 20 per cent green energy goal by 2020. 

Keppel Prince says a drastic cut could hurt jobs at its turbine manufacturing plant in the city. 

Environmentalists are also looking to repeal strict Coalition planning laws around wind farms to make it easier for developers to place turbines closer to homes.

Friends of the Earth renewable energy spokesman Leigh Ewbank said it was a chance for level-headed talks about the state of renewable energy. 

“We want to have a positive discussion, that’s why we’re going to have everyone in the room at the same time,” Mr Ewbank said. 

“It will be a good opportunity for everybody to set out their plans.” 

South West Coast MP Denis Napthine has been invited to attend, as has state energy minister Russell Northe. 

Keppel Prince general manager Steve Garner said the recent collapse of the Ocean Power Technologies wave project had hurt confidence in the renewable industry.

“We haven’t had any good news in this district for a bloody long time,” Mr Garner said.

Wind opponents may also attend the forum to outline their objections, while Friends of the Earth will put their case forward for policy changes. 

The forum will be held at the Fawthrop Community Centre, 1 Hood St, Portland, on Sunday, August 24 at 3pm. 

s.mccomish@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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