Government offers to appoint wind firm commissioner to pass RET bill

Environment minister Greg Hunt has offered to appoint a wind farm commissioner in an attempt to gain the support of crossbenchers for a revised Renewable Energy Target.

The Guardian yesterday obtained a leaked draft letter from Hunt to anti-wind energy minor party senators Bob Day (Family First), David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrat), and John Madigan and Jacqui Lambie (independents).

The government is attempting to win the support of the senators to pass a reduced RET from 41,000 to 33,000 gigawatt hours by 2020. It is seeking support from the senators to include wood-waste burning in the new RET.

Hunt’s letter proposed measures included an “independent scientific committee”, wind farm commissioner, and a response in good faith to the results of a Senate committee (chaired by Madigan) report into claims of health problems related to wind turbines.

"Despite the shrill denials of wind and environmental groups Australians are suffering in their homes," Madigan said.

The opposition has called the senate report, which will be delivered on August 3, an attempt to further cripple the wind power industry.

University of Sydney Professor of Public Health Simon Chapman said a new commission on wind farms was needless.

"This is a bone which has been thrown to the independent senators, some of whom are frankly just obsessed by this issue," he told the ABC.

"They have had 25 reviews which have said there is no direct effect of wind farms on health.”