The following is an editorial from the Ballarat Courier.
The stand out quote in the post-state election climate has to be:
“the Labor vote remained strong even at booths at the epicentre of wind-farm developments. The result confirmed what some have believed since Victoria began real efforts to explore alternative energy sources — that there are small but extremely vocal groups against such projects”.
Local councils to gain greater voice on wind debates
06 Dec, 2010
JUDGING by talk since the election of the Liberal-Nationals Coalition in Victoria last week, opponents of several wind-farm projects in the region are likely to be a little dismayed by the new government.
Clearly the Baillieu Government’s stance on wind-farm projects, as explained during the campaign, is much less bullish than that of the former Brumby Government.
It’s Planning Minister Justin Madden approved a series of new wind-farm projects in the lead-up to last month’s poll, including the Stockyard Hill project near Beaufort, featuring 157 turbines. It had been thought that the controversy surrounding wind-farm projects across the state seats of Ripon and Ballarat East could have delivered vital seats to Mr Baillieu at the election.
History, with the figures to prove it, has shown that the Labor vote remained strong even at booths at the epicentre of wind-farm developments. The result confirmed what some have believed since Victoria began real efforts to explore alternative energy sources — that there are small but extremely vocal groups against such projects. Those likely to live near new projects have every right to be vocal but it was clear that the Brumby government wanted to look at the greater good for the state ahead of those landowners.
The new government’s planning minister, Matthew Guy, has confirmed the Baillieu government has no wish to revisit projects which have previously been approved. Instead, plans to provide residents living within 2 kilometres of turbines with greater power to stop projects will be implemented only for new projects. The new government and anti-wind farm groups want companies to take the new measures into consideration for projects already approved.
Inevitably, we would expect projects to go ahead as planned under these circumstances.
What the future holds is less certain. Councils will have a much greater say in wind-farm planning approvals. Despite the Baillieu government looking on wind less favourably than its predecessor, it will oversee the biggest expansion in wind energy in Victoria’s history — all without having to rule on one project.
Whether it has short-changed anti-wind farm groups as a result, the focus of each controversial debate over wind energy will return to local council level during the next four years and that has to be of benefit for local voices on both sides of the ledger.