Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described wind farms as "visually awful" saying he wishes the Howard government, of which he was a member, had never implemented the Renewable Energy Target (RET) policy.
"When I've been up close to these things, not only are they visually awful, but they make a lot of noise," Mr Abbott told Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones this morning.
His comments echoed those of Treasurer Joe Hockey, who last year described wind turbines as "utterly offensive".
Mr Abbott said changes before the Federal Parliament to reduce the RET were designed to prevent wind farms from further spreading across the Australian landscape.
"I would frankly have liked to reduce the number a lot more but we got the best deal we could out of the Senate," he said.
"And if we hadn't had a deal, Alan, we would have been stuck with even more of these things."
The target was initially created in 2001 by John Howard and subsequently strengthened by Labor to "at least 20 per cent by 2020", calculated at the time as being 41,000 gigawatt hours of electricity.
But energy efficiency gains since then mean that 41,000GWh would have represented a figure closer to 27 per cent of 2020 electricity needs.
The Federal Government has sought to cut the target, saying it wanted one more in line with original 20 per cent target.
Changes to the RET legislating a 33,000GWh target have passed the Lower House but not the Senate — a point on which Mr Abbott appeared to be unclear.
"What we did recently in the Senate was reduce, Alan, reduce, capital R-E-D-U-C-E, we reduced the number of these thing that we're going to get in the future," he said.
Mr Abbott also said he would have preferred the Howard government had never created the RET in the first place.
"Knowing what we know now I don't think we would have gone down this path in this way, but at the time we thought it was the right way forward," he told Jones.
Opposition spokesman for the environment Mark Butler said he was "stunned" by Mr Abbott's comments.
"Renewable energy is enormously popular in Australia," Mr Butler said.
"People want more renewable energy, not less, because of the obvious economic and environmental benefits of creating clean energy from free resources like wind, solar and waves."
Greens deputy leader Larissa Waters said Mr Abbott's comments could harm the industry.
"This is the guy that's held out — he's trying to cut to give certainty. In fact, he's made it clear that he doesn't want the industry to exist at all," Senator Waters said.
Abbott set out to destroy viable industry: Australian Wind Alliance
Australian Wind Alliance national coordinator Andrew Bray said the comments exposed the Government's true intentions on the RET.
"These comments are extraordinary. Our Prime Minister has just admitted to setting out deliberately to destroy a viable industry in Australia, one that could provide jobs to many Australians, investment to regional communities and new income to farmers," Mr Bray said.
"Not only that but he regrets that he wasn't able to gut the industry even further.
"The Government has always maintained that it was cutting the RET due to an oversupply of electricity.
"But it's obvious that rationale was just smoke and mirrors to cover up their real intent: to destroy wind energy in Australia."
A Senate committee initiated by several independent senators is currently underway into whether wind turbines cause illness.
Medical reviews, including one by Australia's premier medical research body, the National Health and Medical Research Council, have found no clear link between wind turbines and reported symptoms.