The following is a re-post of an article in the Australian Financial Review, which has put a cat amongst the Coalition government pigeons. The Minister has finally responded to industry concerns, which have been on the public record for many months now.
The claim by some renewable energy companies that they may be forced to leave the state or start new projects elsewhere if the Coalition enacted its wind farm policy was made last year after the November election, see for instance this item on Portland wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince.
As Keppel Prince general manager Steve Garner said again this week, “I outlined that right from day one when the Coalition announced their policy (that) … we need to investigate other opportunities throughout the nation and if it means moving our operations to another state then we need to do the feasibilities on that”.
Given that Planning Minister Matthew Guy says in the article below that the Nationals had no input when he was forming his position on wind farms, and there was no consultation that we are aware of with the wind industry, it does beg the question: who did the Coalition consult with in forming this un popular policy?
State losing wind fight
22 Mar, 2011 A NUMBER of Australia’s largest renewable energy companies are threatening to pull the plug on new wind farm projects in Victoria following the state government’s decision to hand local councils planning control over new developments.
Energy providers say councils are too under-resourced to handle the new powers.
They have also said that a new requirement that all homes within a two-kilometre radius of a proposed turbine be identified could be the first step towards setting up a buffer zone, rendering many project unviable.
Pacific Hydro spokesman Andrew Richards said the company would look to other states for future wind farm developments when its $250 million pipeline of Victorian projects had been completed.
“At this point, we won’t be taking any new project through planning in Victoria,” he said.
“One of the key issues with the two-kilometre set-backs, under our current reading, is that it only takes one farmer to say no and they have veto over $300 million worth of regional investment.”
Union Fenosa Wind Australia engineering manager Shaq Mohajerani said he supported greater community consultation, but that the wind industry and financiers were eager to minimise risk and uncertainty.
“How these changes impact the planning process in practice will determine how financiers assess the health and prospects of the wind industry in Victoria,” he said.
Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy said there was no input from the Nationals in forming his position on wind farms and further legislative changes affecting the sector would be brought in later in the year during the spring session of parliament.
Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill McArthur cautiously welcomed the changes, but admitted some councils might play politics and deliberately block proposals and Allens Arthur Robinson partner Chris Schulz said most developers could abandon projects or mount a legal case in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. –
Source: AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW
Journalist: SCOTT ELLIOTT