A Dutch wind farm. 'Too noisy,' says Mr Abbott. He must have extremely acute hearing.

A Dutch wind farm. ‘Too noisy,’ says Mr Abbott, who must have extremely sensitive hearing.

Dear Mr Abbott (Prime Minister of Australia) and Mr Hockey (Australian Treasurer),

I’m following your pronouncements online while spending some time in Holland, and I understand that neither of you like windmills. They’re ‘visually appalling’ according to you, Mr Abbott, and ‘utterly offensive’ in your opinion, Mr Hockey.

I read that your government has gone so far as to order the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to cease funding new wind farms.

You may be surprised to hear that many people over this side of the world seem to enjoy them.

Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I find open cut coal mines a little unsightly, but then I’ve only seen one of them close up. Possibly there are some beautiful coal mines in Australia; Mr Abbott, you often seem to be popping on a hard hat and opening a new one. Tell me where I can visit a visually appealing one and I’ll take the camera with me.

Seriously, please don’t insult my intelligence by pretending that your obstruction of sustainable power generation is about keeping Australia beautiful and your concern for our public health.

Just outside Amsterdam it’s possible to stand right underneath a number of modern windmills. I’ve done it many times. I can assure you, if you live in a city or near a beach (say, somewhere like Manly in Sydney) you’re already tolerating ambient traffic and wave noise many times louder than that made by any windmill.

I think you already knew that, but if (radio commentator) Alan Jones tells his listeners windmills are destroying life as they know it, it’s safer to agree with him while you’re on air, isn’t it?

Standing below them, the racket these windmills make is drowned out by, well, the sound of the wind.

Standing directly below them, the unholy racket these windmills are supposed to make is totally drowned out by, well, the sound of the wind.

I’m perfectly open to a debate about whether windmills produce enough power to be worth their keep. Sure, the resource they use is free and inexhaustible, but I understand that their efficacy varies with the wind conditions. If other forms of clean, sustainable energy generation are more efficient and reliable, I’d like to know about it. Please produce the relevant facts and figures and let’s discuss them with the Australian public.

Meanwhile, I’ve been collecting a few images of those appalling Dutch windmills…

Big, black and ugly, a blot on the landscape...

A big, black blot on the landscape…

...but 19th century painter Constant Gabriel seemed to like it.

…but 19th century painter Constant Gabriel seemed to like that kind of thing.

The Kinderdijk is now one of the Netherlands' 'must-see' attractions.

The Kinderdijk is now one of the Netherlands’ ‘must-see’ attractions.

We just saw it last week, and weren't particularly offended.

We just saw it last week, and weren’t particularly visually offended. Our health still seemed fine afterwards too.

I know you like riding the bike, Mr Abbott. Next time you’re over here, get in touch and we’ll go for a cycle to visit some windmills. You might even get to like them as much as I do.

Yours sincerely,



Filed under Cycle touring, Holland


  1. I don’t find them ugly at all. We saw lots in Spain and I think they look quite elegant slowly waving their arms in the air.

  2. Angela Highstead

    In 2012 amazed to see all the wind farms AND paddock after paddock of solar panels in GERMANY. “Come on Australia”.

    • Yes, Germany is encouraging large scale wind and solar farms. So far the Australian government has only told us they’re NOT encouraging domestic solar collection. Bad, bad move, unless it’s linked to major incentives for other renewable energy.

  3. Brilliant Richard. I will share it.

  4. Stan

    Obviously, any Europeans who accept wind farms don’t have the same highly developed sense of aesthetics possessed by Abbott and Hockey.

  5. Nice one Richard, I am a big fan, as it were!

  6. kevinmayne

    Sadly Abbott and co are not alone – British Chancellor (Treasurer) knocking back renewables to look after his mates in oil and nuclear, but hiding it as “what the public wants”

  7. Everybody is a ‘nimby’ about turbines (not windmills), and few would disagree that they can make a contribution (but not much) to renewable energy. Getting the right location for them will always be a moot point (as we found with two recent applications near our village…..which were both defeated at huge legal expense)……and don’t discount the massive negative impact of huge ‘forests’ of turbines that have gone up on hitherto beautiful landscapes, all of which will have to be dismantled after only 25 years of use (because that is their life cycle)……is this what we call ‘sustainable energy production’?
    And don’t believe that these things are soundless. Passing by on a bicycle, or walking, (and on a windy day) is not the same as living in their vicinity. A turbine maintenance engineer recently told me he wouldn’t haven’t one anywhere near his home…….and he makes a living out of them!

    • It’s a matter of cost/benefit, Frank. From what I see here in NL I think the costs of turbines, in terms of visual and noise pollution, are much exaggerated by their opponents. I’d be happy to have one on the roof of my apartment block or across the street if I knew it was making enough power to run the neighbourhood.

      Trustworthy info on their efficiency is hard to come by. I’ve seen articles saying a turbine can’t boil two kettles at the same time, and others claiming it can run 1500 households each year. It depends on which way the wind is blowing, apparently!

      Replacement every 25 years is no big deal either, provided the energy required to make and install the new one is factored into the cost side of the equation.

      If a paddock of solar panels does a more efficient job than a forest of windmills or domestic solar collection, let’s have that instead.

      Sadly one of our Australian government’s first acts in office was to abolish our Climate Commission, the body that could give us (and them) the facts and figures we need for a proper discussion. I guess they think they have a better chance of winning an uninformed debate.

      • Interestingly, though we successfully fought off the placement of a wind farm on top of a prominent wold just 1km from the village, the installation of a solar farm on the same site was totally unopposed….and it’s barely visible. And we are delighted (despite what Kevin has said) that the subsidies on turbines have been withdrawn…….such issues will always have battle lines clearly drawn!

  8. Angela Highstead

    Whoa Richard. Methinks you’ve started a bit of a discussion. “Good one”.

  9. Good one! I wish Mr Abbott would read this cause it’s the truth!

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