Senate probe on wind farms welcomed

A Senate inquiry into wind farms follows a 2011 inquiry on the social and economic impact of rural wind farms.

A Senate inquiry into wind farms follows a 2011 inquiry on the social and economic impact of rural wind farms.

A FORTHCOMING Senate inquiry into wind farms has been welcomed by outspoken south-west opponent Annie Gardner, who called for it to include a comprehensive examination of health issues.

But the Clean Energy Council described the move as a waste of money in canvassing issues covered by previous investigations.

It is designed to be the first inquiry to look at  a wide range of issues, including impact on household electricity prices, the role of the Clean Energy Regulator, effect on fauna, planning processes and whole-of-life inputs and outputs.

The inquiry was secured this week with voting support from Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, Bob Day (Family First), Chris Back (Liberal Party) and independent senators Nick Xenophon and John Madigan,  who has gathered evidence from the south-west.

“We all deserve to know what impact wind energy is having on the bottom line of our electricity bills so that we can assess whether we are getting value for our money from the subsidies paid to the wind industry,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“The committee will also examine whether wind farms in general are complying with existing planning regulations following several significant breaches in three states.” 

It is expected the six-member select committee will convene next year. It follows a 2011 inquiry on the social and economic impact of rural wind farms.

Mrs Gardner, who farms with her husband near the Macarthur wind farm, has long campaigned for detailed examination of health side-effects.

“Hopefully this new inquiry will include multi-disciplinary research,” she told The Standard. “We hope the truth will emerge and action will be taken.

“I’ve been communicating with the senators, particularly John Madigan.”

The Clean Energy Council said it would be the ninth review into renewable energy in three years.

“Many of these issues have already been tested in court cases across the country and have concluded in support of wind energy,” council policy director Russell Marsh said.

pcollins@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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