AN umbrella group representing wind farms has defended the industry’s tarnished reputation as the cause of major damage to rural roads.
The Clean Energy Council has told The Standard wind farm companies generally restore local roads “to a higher standard” after construction was complete.
“We need to be careful about unfairly making wind farms the scapegoat in areas used by vehicles such as petrol tankers, livestock trucks and haulage trucks for other industries,” the council’s policy director Russell Marsh said.
His comments come after months of criticism from south-west residents and Moyne Shire Council about severe damage to roads leading to the huge $1 billion Macarthur wind farm, construction of which started last year.
Hundreds of trucks have been plying district roads for months, bringing in thousands of tonnes of material from quarries across the region.
Mr Marsh said his council encouraged the wind industry to “construct their projects in a way that is respectful of the local community”.
“Any major construction project — wind farm or otherwise — can cause inconvenience for those nearby,” he said.
Mr Marsh said recent changes to Victorian government planning policy raised concerns that wind companies were turning their attention to developing projects in other states.
“Ultimately this is about regional jobs and investment and we are potentially missing an opportunity to generate thousands of jobs and bring an income to struggling farmers,” he said.
“We are not aware of any new wind farms applications since the government implemented its new policy at the end of August last year.”
Mr Marsh also defended the industry’s ability to gain government financial support.
“Wind farms are supported by the 20 per cent national Renewable Energy Target,” he said.
“This is a market-based scheme that provides renewable energy at the least cost to consumers. It is funded by the national electricity market, meaning the cost is shared across all electricity users.
“Wind farm providers earn large-scale renewable energy certificates, which go up and down in price as a result of supply and demand.”
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