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Renewable energy is great, but at what cost to agriculture?

We’re not against renewable energy but there is a place for it and regional Australia, and particularly agriculture, shouldn’t do all the lifting.

Across the country, I’ve been hearing from worried primary producers and regional communities who are concerned that one renewable energy project or another is going to impact their ability to produce the food and fibres that sustain our nation.

Often, the concerns I’m hearing aren’t just about solar panels or wind turbines locking up prime agricultural land, but rather the transmission lines and towers that connect the projects to our electrical grid are the issues causing headaches.

Most recently, I met with my Nationals counterpart and Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien to hear from the Kilkivan Action Group about the issues attached to the transmission lines associated with the state government’s Borumba Dam Pumped Hydro Project.

These transmission lines not only pose a risk to the prime agricultural land in the Wide Bay electorate but also to our neighbouring Maranoa electorate as well.

When you hear of the potential financial losses, environmental damage, and emotional toll these sorts of projects have on the locals whose livelihoods are at risk it becomes clear that renewable energy projects are losing their social licence.

It’s a similar story in our country’s south. During a recent Parliamentary sitting in Canberra a group of more than 60 farmers from across Central Victoria visited Parliament House to air their frustrations about more than 28,000 kilometres worth of transmission lines and towers.

Across the country, farmers are concerned about what impacts these sorts of projects could have on them, and based on what I’ve seen recently, they have every right to be concerned.

I’m not saying that renewable energy sources aren’t important, far from it.Authorised by David Littleproud, Warwick, Queensland

Renewable energy is going to have a role to play in powering our nation, but I firmly believe we need to ask ourselves the question, at what physical cost to the environment, your food security and cost?

That’s why the Nationals believe we should pause and plan properly. There’s no race but there are real consequences if we get this wrong and that’s why I asked the Prime Minister to hold a National Energy Summit and since he has rejected that, a Senate inquiry is imperative, otherwise regional Australia will foot the bill again.

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