With a 22,300-mile coastline, offshore winds and almost perpetual sunshine, Australia could be leading the world in replacing carbon-spewing fossil fuels with renewable-energy sources.
That is unlikely to happen, though, under Tony Abbott, who has proclaimed coal to be “good for humanity” – and who revealed that he detests wind farms, calling them noisy and “visually awful”.
To the dismay of the multi-billion-dollar clean-energy sector, and to the mortification of many Australians, Mr Abbott bragged that he had halted the spread of wind farms by slashing the amount of energy to be generated by renewable sources by 2020.
Explaining a compromise which he reached with opposition parties in the Senate last month to cut the target by 20 per cent, he told a right-wing radio host, Alan Jones: “What we did recently in the Senate was to reduce… the number of these things [wind farms] we are going to get in the future.”
He added: “I frankly would have liked to have reduced the number a lot more. But we got the best deal we could, and if we hadn’t had a deal, we would have been stuck with even more of these things… I’ve been up close to these wind farms, there’s no doubt that not only are they visually awful but they make a lot of noise.”
Not that Mr Abbott is the only member of the global elite to utter those thoughts, American business tycoon Donald Trump has attacked Alex Salmond, saying the former First Minister should be “ashamed of himself” for backing plans to build offshore windfarms near a golf course owned by the flamboyant US billionaire.
Mr Trump is battling to halt the development of an 11-turbine scheme off the Aberdeenshire coast, which he says will spoil the views of golfers playing at his nearby Trump International Golf Links.
Last week the US businessman lost his latest legal challenge against the windfarm, which was approved by the Scottish government in 2013.
However, Mr Trump went on the offensive at a press conference yesterday saying: “We will be appealing. Windmills are littering Scotland, they are destroying the magnificent landscape of Scotland.
“There is nothing like [this landscape] in the world and they are destroying it.”
The billionaire, who was in Scotland to launch a $10m clubhouse at the Turnberry golf club in Ayrshire which he bought last year, said he expected to be successful in his legal battle, though it could take up to five years.
“[Windmills] are bad for what I have [as in, his business interests)] and bad for Scotland….Alex [Salmond] should be ashamed of himself because he is ruining one of the great landscapes in the world,” he said. Whilst we’re talking of ruined landscapes the Navitus Windfarm Project intended for the Dorset coast deserves a mention.
Bournemouth Borough Council has launched a fresh campaign urging the government not to go ahead with the Navitus Bay offshore wind farm proposal.
The excuse is that the council wants to save England’s only natural World Heritage Site the Jurassic Coast, as well as Poole Bay (oh please!).
Their real motivation is £1 billion worth of annual tourism which they claim would be adversely impacted by the wind farm which would be situated off the Dorset coast.
In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Leader of Bournemouth Council, John Beesley said:
“Navitus Bay offshore wind farm would be highly visible from land and dramatically alter and damage the intrinsic appeal and beauty of what is currently a natural and untouched seascape. The industrial-scale turbines would be classed as permanent structures and fall into the highest category of harm in terms of visual assessment…Our natural coastline is the main reason why 6.7 million tourists from across Great Britain and overseas flock here every year. Bournemouth is “Britain’s premier resort” which competes with “the best in Europe” and damaging its progress would be madness”. As mad as doing nothing to encourage the widespread use of sustainable forms of energy? I doubt it.