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Farmers may have to pick up the tab for dismantling renewables

Who will clean up the mess renewables will leave behind?

In estimates I asked Labor who is responsible for cleaning up the mess that renewables will leave behind.

Unlike most other issues, where Labor will step in and tell the individual what to do, suddenly they don’t want to ensure there are proper protections in place for the environment from renewables.

So much for protecting the environment.

Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
13/02/2024
Estimates
AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Senator RENNICK: I want to come back to the discussion we had this morning around farmers and the money that they will receive from renewable energy projects. Is it true that most farmers have to wear the cost of cleaning up the renewable projects? Do you think they’ve actually taken those costs into account?

Senator Watt: You would need to ask the farmers what contracts they’ve entered into, and what arrangements they’ve made with the proponents.

Senator RENNICK: That’s exactly right. I don’t actually think that a lot of farmers realise that they’re left with the mess to clean up in 10 or 20 years time, when these renewable solar panels or wind farms have to be taken down.

Senator Watt: You are entitled to your view.

Senator RENNICK: The question is: what are you doing to make sure that farmers are fully informed about their risks in terms of this? What protections are out there—

Senator Watt: My role is not to knock on the door of every farmer and talk to them about the contract they enter into with a renewable energy proponent. My role is to work with other ministers, particularly Chris Bowen, to ensure that we have the right policies and regulations in place around renewable energy expansion. That’s why we commissioned the review from Andrew Dyer. That’s why he’s provided recommendations. That’s why we’re now implementing them.

Senator RENNICK: What’s the government going to do 10, 20 or 30 years down the track when we will have a potential environmental catastrophe if, let’s say, the Victorian modelling turns out to be correct and 70 per cent of agricultural land is used for renewable energy projects? Who will ultimately pick up the tab for cleaning up that agricultural land?

Senator Watt: Again, that would depend on what the contracts say. I don’t know. A particular contract might say that it’s the responsibility of the proponent to do that. A contract might say it’s the responsibility of the farmer. They’re all issues that need to be entered into between the parties. I’m sure there is some level of environmental regulation around that. I don’t know what it is because I’m not the minister for that. I’m sure the officials in that committee would be happy to answer your questions.

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