Farmers Protest Against Land Acquisition for Wind Turbines

Cattle farmer Grant Piper said some farmers are being forced to completely subdivide their property to accommodate renewable developments.
Farmers Protest Against Land Acquisition for Wind Turbines
Protestors at a rally against renewables in Canberra, Australia, on Feb. 6, 2024. (The Epoch Times)
Farmers, landowners, and concerned citizens have rallied in Canberra over frustrations aimed at the federal Labor government’s renewable energy agenda. 
During the government’s first day of Parliament, National Rally Against Reckless Renewables (NRARR) Chair Grant Piper demanded an immediate halt to wind, solar, and hydro projects, along with their associated transmission construction.
Speaking from the capital, Mr. Piper told The Epoch Times that those demands also include a senate inquiry into the environmental, economic, and social costs of the government’s plan for renewables. 
The group is also calling for the ban on nuclear power to be lifted, saying on their website that, “The current ban is archaic, restraining Australia from achieving a strong reliable energy future.”

Claims Its About Money, Not the Environment

Mr. Piper also claimed that the government and renewables industry was focused on money, rather than the environment. 
“I think the so-called renewables are counterproductive. I mean, the whole system and the consultation is terrible. And they just seem to be doing it for the vested interests of the people that are invested in these businesses and most of them are foreign-owned or predominately foreign-owned,” says Mr. Piper. 
He argued negotiations under a compulsory acquisition notice to build large wind turbines and transmission lines on farmland and other private lands were unfair. 
“So, they like to clear the land of farmers and their families that have sometimes farmed for 160 or 70 years, and they want to walk in and capitalise on that. And so yes, they do prefer farmland over crown land or state forest or national park or even mining land,” said Mr. Piper. 
As a cattle farmer, Mr. Piper says he is losing about six hectares on one property in the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone and will see up to 300 wind turbines built in the area.  

He says others are having to give up significantly more land.

“But other people are having to completely subdivide their property and destroy any sort of productive capacity it might have,” he says. 
To compensate landowners, the New South Wales government gives payments of up to$200,000 (US$130,000) per kilometre, paid over 20 years, for large-scale transmission lines built on landowners’ properties, similar to compensation received in Victoria.  
However, the National Farmers Confederation argued it was inadequate compensation, and that the laws around compulsory acquisition were outdated.

Some Farmers Say Renewables Are Lucrative Business

In contrast, also visiting Canberra, was the Farmers for Climate Action who said farmers could cash in on the push towards renewables.

“Typical payments being offered to farmers by wind companies are now more than $40,000 per turbine per year, and many farms host dozens of turbines whilst still farming sheep or cattle,” said Brett Hall, chair of the group.

“Renewable energy on farms saves family farms and makes farmers money,” he told reporters on Feb. 5.

Meanwhile, the federal Labor government is standing firmly behind renewables, saying that wind and solar are the cheapest forms of electricity. 
The Department of Climate Change says on its website that Australia’s energy system is undergoing its greatest transformation since the 1950s, with a commitment to have the nation’s electricity supply run mainly on renewables as a part of reaching net zero by 2050.
Touting the viability of wind turbines, the federal government says the “carbon payback period” can be achieved in 5 to 12 months. 
“Offshore wind turbines have a lifespan of around 25 years but can be extended to 30-40 years with proper maintenance,” the department said on its website. 
“Therefore, after the carbon payback period, offshore wind turbines can generate clean energy for many years with virtually no emissions, significantly offsetting any carbon produced during their manufacture.”
About 32.6 percent of Australia’s emissions come from energy production, according to the CSIRO (the national science agency). That is followed by transportation, agriculture, and industry. 
Meanwhile, Australia’s contribution to global emissions is roughly 1.3 percent, not counting factors like coal exports, and consumption of imported goods manufactured overseas.

Farmers Also Feeling Pressure From Inflation

Energy, fertilisers, and inflation costs have also been hitting farmers around the world, with some environmental policies even sparking protests throughout Europe. 
Mr. Piper says he has been feeling the hit from commodity prices too. 
“[It] makes real businesses that actually produce stuff, unviable. Whereas the financial industry just goes from strength to strength, because it is sucking the life out of all these other industries that actually do things,” he said.
“And the war on meat, the war on farming, the war on food. I think all farmers around the world are under that pressure that they’ve been cast as destroyers … your cows are bad, but 1,000s of hectares of solar panels are good. And that’s just rubbish,” says Mr. Piper. 
Other politicians speaking at the rally include Senators Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Ralph Babet, Ross Cadell, and Barnaby Joyce among others. 
Daryl Vandenberg is a journalist based in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. He is a former news anchor for Canadian radio stations Moose FM, 99.1 FM Ontario, and Newcap Radio.