Councils challenge wind ban

Posted on February 29, 2012 by

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The following comes from the Weekly Times. Johanna Leggatt,  February 29, 2012

VICTORIAN local councils are taking their fight against wind farm bans to the State Government.

The City of Greater Bendigo has written to the Government seeking a revision of the planning laws, which restrict new wind farms in parts of the state.

Mount Alexander Shire Council requested an exemption from the laws last year, while the Woodend Integrated Sustainable Energy group has indicated it will also push for Macedon Ranges Shire Council to seek a reprieve from regulations.

In August last year, the Victorian Government gave households the power to veto any turbine construction within 2km of their homes.

They also declared areas of the state “no-go zones” for wind farms, including parts of the Macedon and McHarg ranges, the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas, the Yarra Valley, and within 5km of the Great Ocean Road and the Bass Coast.

Greater Bendigo councillor Keith Reynard said he feared the wind farm rules deterred crucial investment in rural areas.

“Half of the (Bendigo) municipality is in a no-go zone, and we have no flexibility and no way of knowing what the basis was for the Government making this decision,” said Mr Reynard.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy said he was not about to change the planning laws but “the door was always open for discussion”.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Kobad Bhavnagri said new modelling indicated the Victorian regulations could place upward pressure on electricity prices, as companies were forced to look to other, more expensive, states for investment.

“Our modelling indicates this could cost electricity retailers an additional $1.8 billion (over the next decade) which is likely to be passed on to consumers through higher national electricity prices,” he said.

The nation’s largest independent renewable energy producer, Pacific Hydro, has also confirmed it is pulling out of any future wind farm investment in Victoria, saying “there was no point to investing in the current climate”.

Pacific Hydro’s Australian general manager, Lane Crockett, said the company was committed to completing three wind farms approved by the former Labor government but would not seek any new sites.
Mr Guy said the Bloomberg analysis “was not based on existing projects”, and said suggestions the laws were deterring investment “were absolutely incorrect”.