Queensland Farmers and Landowners Protest Massive Renewable Projects

Queensland Farmers and Landowners Protest Massive Renewable Projects
Federal Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud is seen with protestors outside the Queensland Parliament House in Brisbane, Australia, on Aug. 22, 2023. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Alfred Bui

Farmers and landowners have gathered outside the Queensland parliament to protest the state’s large-scale renewables projects amid concerns about land grabs and environmental damages.

The “Rally Against Reckless Renewables” protest is the latest action by farmers, landholders and community groups to voice their opposition against the state’s ambitious renewable plans, which boasted tens of billions of dollars worth of investment.

The Queensland government has committed to double the size of the MacIntyre Wind Precinct in the southwest of Brisbane, turning it into the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.

The expanded project is expected to have a generation capacity of up to 2,000 megawatts and will power 1.4 million homes.

Also in the government’s pipeline are a $14.2 billion (US$9.11 billion) pumped hydro project in the Wide Bay area and another $12 billion pumped hydro project near Eungella with a combined generation capacity of 7,000 megawatts.

These two massive projects are part of Queensland’s $62 billion energy and jobs plan designed to help the state replace 70 percent of its power grid with renewable energy by 2032.

In a recent announcement, the Queensland government confirmed renewables now accounted for over 25 percent of the state’s electricity supply.

The Protest

According to a video from federal MP Michelle Landry on social media, dozens of protestors were seen holding banners and posters near the parliament building with slogans criticising renewable projects for their environmental damages.

One of the speakers said her community was visited by a Queensland government-owned energy corporation, telling them that they might build a transmission line over their properties.

“They came along, and they started to threaten our homes,” she said.

“They started to tell people there is a chance that they are going to have a gigantic 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission line and the towers that go with them outside their homes.”

The speaker said the announcement had brought mental and emotional anguish to their community.

She also noted that her community had held meetings and decided to take action to “defend” their homes, which she described as a marathon fight against the state government’s policy.

A supplied image was obtained on Friday, November 27, 2020, of a wind farm in Tasmania, Australia. (AAP Image/Granville Harbour Wind Farm)
A supplied image was obtained on Friday, November 27, 2020, of a wind farm in Tasmania, Australia. (AAP Image/Granville Harbour Wind Farm)

Doug Cannon from Save Eungella, an allied community group concerned about the environmental impacts of renewable projects, warned that if a pumped hydro facility was built in the Eungella region, the waterways hosting native animals would be destroyed.

He also said local residents were stunned when the projects were approved.

“It just caught us all out of the blue, and it’s just shattered our community right from when it was announced,” Mr. Cannon said in comments obtained by AAP.

“We’re here today to make a stand and to let all the pollies know that we’re not just going to take it lying down, that we’re going to fight to the bloody end.”

National Party Politicians Join the Protest

Key National Party members attended the protest and showed their support to farmers, landowners and community members affected by Queensland’s renewable projects.

Nationals federal leader David Littleproud criticised the Queensland government’s plan to achieve 80 percent renewables by 2035, calling it “reckless.”

“Men and women will bear that cost with their land being consumed with solar panels and wind turbines,” he said.

“Taking out prime agricultural land, taking away our food security, but also taking away remnant vegetation and destroying remnant vegetation.”

At the same time, Mr. Littleproud called for a senate inquiry into the damage the projects may cause to agricultural land in the state.

The call was echoed by Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, who also appeared at the protest.

“We are pushing for an inquiry into renewables and the irreversible damage they will cause to our rainforest and wildlife,” she said in a social media post.

“Families right across regional Queensland are facing an uncertain future. I am standing by our regional communities who are just wanting common sense to prevail.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Queensland Energy Minister Mick De Brenni said the state government would work with communities to reduce any impact on wildlife and agricultural land.

“Not acting on climate change would leave future generations forced to face unprecedented natural disasters and would destroy farmland, rainforests and animal habitats,” the spokesperson said in comments obtained by AAP.

The protest comes after farmers in Victoria held a similar rally outside the parliament building to request the state government abandon two transmission line projects and look for alternatives.
Alfred Bui is an Australian reporter based in Melbourne and focuses on local and business news. He is a former small business owner and has two master’s degrees in business and business law. Contact him at [email protected].
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