Friends of the Earth congratulates the planning minister, Matthew Guy, for today’s announcement.
Press release from the minister is below, FoE release at the top of this section
MEDIA RELEASE Friends of the Earth
Wednesday 18 May 2011
Wind farm approval a great first step by Baillieu Government
Friends of the Earth has congratulated Planning Minister Matthew Guy on his decision to approve the Chepstowe wind farm development near Ballarat.
“We are delighted that the Chepstowe wind farm will go ahead, it’s a small but important step toward a renewable energy future for Victoria,” said FoE campaign coordinator Cam Walker.
“The Government has clearly heard the voices of hundreds of Victorians who wrote to the Minister in support of the Chepstowe wind farm.
“Wind farms are a proven, economically viable way to generate clean renewable energy, and will help Victoria end its reliance on polluting coal-fired electricity.
“This small three-turbine development first applied for approval 15 months ago and has gone through a rigorous environmental and social planning process.
“There are several other larger wind farm developments soon to go through the approvals process.
“The future of these proposals still hangs in the balance because the State Government is only half way through implementing their new wind farm policy, which is expected to impose extra restrictions on future wind farms.
“We certainly hope it will not be the last wind farm approved in Victoria.
The Coalition’s new wind farm policy will give residents within 2km of a proposed wind farm a right to veto the project, and will declare tourist areas and growth corridors ‘off-limits” for wind farm developments. Yet large sections of the state’s coastline are already protected, as wind farm developments are not allowed in national parks or similar conservation reserves.
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.
“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.
“In the recent budget, the government allocated $2.5 million to map no-go zones for wind farms. If it is fully implemented, the state government’s new wind farm policy will threaten the future of wind energy in Victoria.
For interview contact: Cam Walker 0419 338 047
From the Minister for Planning
Minister approves Chepstowe wind farm and responds to community concerns
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Planning Minister Matthew Guy today announced the go ahead for a three-turbine wind farm in Chepstowe.
“The independent assessment of the Chepstowe wind farm found that the proposal is consistent with the Victorian Coalition Government’s wind farm policy at the time of its submission as well as the recent changes made to the planning schemes,” Mr Guy said.
“In February 2011, I used my powers to call in the Chepstowe wind farm application before VCAT, as it raised issues about planning policy and the achievement of renewable energy objectives.
“Senior officers of the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) conducted a thorough investigation of the subject site and surrounding areas and met with all parties associated with the VCAT proceeding. All parties to the proposal had the opportunity to be heard, before a recommendation was made to Governor in Council.
“This approval responds to concerns raised about potential impacts to local Brolga populations and proposes to locate all potentially hazardous power cables associated with the turbines underground.
“An Avifauna Management Plan will be prepared to the satisfaction of Pyrenees Shire Council, which will monitor and manage birdlife populations around the site.”
The approval also requires consideration for native vegetation offsets and assurance the facility is compatible with identified environmental values.
“Importantly, the proposal meets the 2010 noise assessment standards,” Mr Guy said.
The proponent of the wind farm is Future Energy, located adjacent to Chepstowe on Pittong Road, between Skipton and Snake Valley.
The Planning Minister’s decision follows the 2011-12 Victorian Budget commitment of
$2.5 million over the forward estimates to define suitable sites and no-go zones for wind farms and improve definition of significant landscapes.