Coalition wind farm policy starts to bite

The Age newspaper recently reported that the Baillieu government has conceded that “its controversial wind farm policy is powerless to control the biggest expansion of wind energy in Victoria’s history, with 1322 new turbines planned across 28 approved developments”. That is, that it can not stop proposals that were approved by the ALP government prior to November 2010, but not yet built.

However, in terms of future proposals, it is becoming evident that they intend to proceed with imposing the wind plan they announced back in May.

The following report about the creation of ‘no go’ areas comes from the Midland Express.

Wind farm ‘no-go’s

07 Dec, 2010 By Kylie Kitchen

At least three potential wind farms in the district will have no future under Coalition government policy.

The wind farm policy includes a minimum two-kilometre buffer zone between turbines and homes and specifies ‘no-go’ zones for wind farms in the Macedon Ranges, McHarg Ranges, Wilson’s Promontory and more areas including some surf coasts.

The policy also forbids wind farm establishment in or near national and state parks, designated tourist areas and designated regional population growth corridors.

“As of now the industry will have to comply with those guidelines,” Planning Minister Matthew Guy said.

“We think it’s a fair balance for councils, communities and the proponents of wind farms as opposed to the lopsided policies of the previous government which worked solely against community interests.”

The Victorian Coalition made the promise in May this year. Speaking to the Midland Express on Friday, Mr Guy confirmed the government will stick to the policy promise.

“What we released at the start of the year is what we stand by,” he said.

The guidelines prevent the potential Sidonia, Baynton and Red Rock wind farms from proceeding.

Planning was already underway for Sidonia, but its location within the Macedon Ranges border prevents it from proceeding.

Baynton was at the stage of a feasibility assessment. Its Macedon Ranges and McHarg Ranges location will stop its progress.

The wind testing near Red Rock at Dalrymple Road is only gathering data at this stage. Its potential to progress any further will be hindered by the required two-kilometre distance from homes.

The state wind farm policy will also make all wind farm energy output data publicly available and reinstate local governments as the planning authority for wind farm applications. New guidelines will be established regarding wind farm construction and operation to monitor noise and strobe lighting impacts, shadow flicker and bird kills.

At the time of the May announcement, now Premier Ted Baillieu said the policy would restore fairness and certainty to the planning system for wind farms.

“It is time to give local communities the key role in deciding where wind farms will go and restore certainty to the planning process for wind farms,” he said.

Mr Baillieu also said his government supports the renewable energy developments as part of Victoria’s energy source.

“Our wind energy plan is fair and reasonable and will provide certainty to operators and communities. We will minimise the effect of wind farms on our natural environment and ensure that our coastal landscapes are protected,” he said.

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