O'Farrell's relentless attack on wind energy threatening growth and investment in the Hunter

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The O'Farrell Government's relentless hostility to renewable energy is risking hundreds of millions of dollars in potential investment in the Hunter, Shadow Minister for Energy and the Environment, Luke Foley said today.

Mr Foley today met with local wind industry representatives at Merewether to discuss how the O'Farrell Government's planning guidelines for wind farms is halting the growth of the industry across the Hunter.

"The Premier's relentless hostility to wind energy in NSW is wasting a huge investment opportunity for the Hunter," Mr Foley said.

"The O'Farrell Government's plan to set a two kilometre exclusion zone between homes and wind turbines will decimate the wind industry and halt the growth of the industry across the Hunter.

"The Hunter has long been a hub of renewable energy innovation and entrepreneurship; however the O'Farrell Government's relentless attack on renewable energy is threatening to undermine this opportunity for regional growth.

"That's why I am calling on the O'Farrell Government to guarantee the future of the Renewable Energy Precincts initiative in next week's State Budget. The Upper Hunter is one of the six Renewable Energy Precincts around the State.

"The government has also placed prohibitive costs in the way of wind farm developments. For a project that would attract $15,000 in planning charges in Victoria, you could pay more than $1 million in NSW planning fees.

"Local wind industry representatives have told me about the challenges they face under the O'Farrell Government as they attempt to bring jobs and sustainable development to the Hunter region.

"Victoria has already seen the wind industry pack up and leave the State after their restrictive policy was implemented and we will risk the same loss of jobs and investment here in NSW.

"With the O'Farrell Government's attack on solar power and now wind farms, NSW has almost no hope of reaching the 20 per cent renewable energy target.

"The wind industry in NSW has great potential, with wind speeds comparable to northern Europe where a large proportion of international wind generation currently occurs.

"NSW has the potential to generate 3,000 megawatts of wind energy. About 150 megawatts are currently installed or in the pipeline.

"Instead of shutting down the wind industry, the O'Farrell Government should have required its own Planning Review to come up with a sensible and workable planning regime for the development of the wind industry in NSW."