Ex-ABC Chief Hits Out at Wind Farms

Graham Lloyd, Environment Editor
The Australian newspaper, January 20, 2012

FORMER ABC chairman Maurice Newman has launched a stinging attack on wind energy and the way government bureaucracy has been willing to trample the rights of ordinary people to promote it.

Mr Newman, who owns a property near a proposed wind farm in NSW, said he had waited until his term at the ABC expired last month before speaking out.

In an essay published in Spectator Australia magazine today, Mr Newman says he opposed wind farms even before they threatened his property.

“They fail on all counts,” he says. “They are grossly inefficient, extremely expensive, socially inequitable, a danger to human health, environmentally harmful, divisive for communities, a blot on the landscape, and don’t even achieve the purpose for which they were designed, namely the reliable generation of electricity and the reduction of CO2 emissions.”

Opponents of wind farms had been dismissed by government as “collateral damage” and victims of “the greater good”.

Mr Newman says planning processes to encourage wind farms are “a perverse distortion” of democracy.

“The mostly multinational wind power industry has influence but no votes, while those most affected have votes but no influence,” he writes.

Mr Newman’s essay coincides with the release of two reports that say too much weight has been given to opponents of wind farms. A CSIRO report says there is stronger community support for developing wind farms than might be assumed from media coverage.

Another report, from wind developer Pacific Hydro, says 83 per cent of people support wind, with only 14 per cent opposed.

Mr Newman says he is particularly concerned that public institutions have lost objectivity.

“We have witnessed the birth of an extraordinary, universal and self-reinforcing movement among the political and executive arms of government, their academic consultants, the mainstream media and vested private sector interests (such as investment banks and the renewables industry), held together by the promise of unlimited government money,” Mr Newman writes.

In an interview, Mr Newman said: “I don’t criticise the turbine manufacturers or developers and I understand the farmer hosts are looking to make a buck. But what I do complain about is that these things are not properly researched.”

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