First test of Baillieu government’s wind farm policy

You can find our opinion piece on the implications of the Coalition’s wind policy here.

MEDIA RELEASE Friends of the Earth

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

First test of Baillieu government’s wind farm policy

The Victorian Planning Department is holding special hearings today and Wednesday on a permit application for the proposed Chepstowe wind farm near Ballarat, after Planning Minister Matthew Guy ‘called in’ the project last month.

As the first test of the Coalition Government’s new wind farm policy, the outcome of the case will have big implications for other proposed wind farms near Ararat, Mortlake, Beaufort, Ballarat, Moorabool, Kyneton and Ballan.

The Coalition’s wind farm policy requires new wind turbines to be at least 2 km from any dwelling, and bans wind farms from tourist areas and growth corridors.

A survey by the Clean Energy Council found that 50 to 70 percent of current wind farm proposals are unlikely to proceed if this policy is implemented.

Friends of the Earth campaign coordinator Cam Walker said:

“In recent years, Victoria has seen substantial growth in jobs and investment in the wind energy industry, with the benefits being shared across many parts of the state.

“Wind farms are a proven, economically viable way to generate clean renewable energy, and could help Victoria end its reliance on polluting coal-fired electricity.

“However, the state government’s current wind farm policy threatens the future of wind energy in Victoria.

“In effect, this policy makes it harder to put up a wind turbine in Victoria than to dig a coal mine.

“Chepstowe is a very small three-turbine project, with a small developer, so it looks like the Government is testing its new policy on a company that has limited ability to respond.

“We call on the Government to re consider its policy, and replace it with one based on common sense and science rather than arbitrary exclusion zones.”

Chepstowe wind farm hearing starts at 10am Tuesday, 22 February
Planning Panels Victoria
Level 1, 8 Nicholson Street
East Melbourne

For interview contact: Cam Walker 0419 338 047
Media assistance: Louise Matthiesson  0417 017 844

Background information

In February 2010 renewable energy company Future Energy Pty Ltd applied for a planning permit to build a three-turbine wind farm at Chepstowe, 30km west of Ballarat.

The permit was originally lodged with the local council, and referred to VCAT last year after the council failed to make a determination within the required time frame.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy took over the decision making process in January when he ‘called in’ the Chepstowe proposal from VCAT and appointed a delegate to determine the application.
The government has asserted that the new set back distance already applies to all new wind farm planning permits, but the change to the regulations has not been formally enacted.

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