Planning Minister claims at odds with Senate Committe

Media release 27 June 2011 FRIENDS OF THE EARTH

Planning Minister claims at odds with Senate Committee

The recent ‘Fielding’ Inquiry into the wind industry was expected by some to deliver a strong censure of the wind energy, however the final report was widely received as being measured and reasonable in its recommendations. The committee resisted the calls for a moratorium on development or to impose arbitrary setback distances between houses and turbines, both of which were demanded by anti-wind activists.

Echoing the outcomes of Victorian and NSW Parliamentary Inquiries, a review by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and numerous state planning panels, the Senate Inquiry has found no proof of a direct link between wind farms and health problems. However, acknowledging that there is great concern in some regional communities, it has called for research to be undertaken under the watchful eye of all stakeholders in an attempt to settle this question once and for all.

The committee looked specifically at the issue of setbacks, and warned that prescribed, distance based setbacks were problematic because “in terms of noise and shadow flicker, the distance may either be too great or too little”.

The committee’s comments about the limitations of arbitrary setbacks are clearly directed at Victoria, where the Baillieu government has proposed Australia’s first distance-based system.

Victoria has had an objective and scientific system of setbacks from turbines for many years. Long existing planning guidelines limit the allowable noise and shadow-flicker at wind farms, and are among the strictest standards in the world.

Disturbingly, the Victoria planning minister, Matthew Guy, stated on the ABC’s 7.30 VIC report on Friday night that the Senate Inquiry supports his government’s plan to implement an arbitrary 2 km set back from all turbines. Minister Guy said “what the report says very clearly is that setbacks of 2 km, setbacks full stop, should be considered by those who are the relevant authorities”.

My Guy has misquoted the committee, which clearly stated that “prescribed setbacks are arbitrary and may be too great or too small” and stated that further consideration needed to be given to the development of setback policies. The committee stated “if the setback is too great then this could limit the industry and possibly affect the amount of renewable power generation in Australia.”

“On Friday night we witnessed Minister Guy falsely claim that the Federal Parliament agrees with his position, when in fact they pointed out its shortcomings”, said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker.

Mr Walker noted that the report endorsed a science-based approach for determining the appropriate distance between a residence and a turbine. “The 2km clause is clearly not based on mainstream science. Which begs the question: other than extremist anti-wind groups, where did Minister Guy get 2 km from as a magic distance as a seperation between houses and turbines?”

Friends of the Earth urges the minister to dump the politics of the 2 km setback, which could send billions of dollars of investment to other states, and instead to build a balanced, science-based planning framework for the further development of the wind industry in the state.

The interview is available here.
The Senate Committee’s findings on the issue of set backs can be found here.
Further comment: Cam Walker 0419 338 047

5 thoughts on “Planning Minister claims at odds with Senate Committe

  1. It’s hardly surprising Matthew Guy has tried to mislead the public about the Senate committee’s findings, they haven’t let the facts get in the way of their selective thinking before now. It certainly points to the fact that members of the state government have links with the fossil fuel industry and small noisy groups like the guardians – guardians who curiously go missing when real landscape issues are being threatened with such things as coalmines.

    The current Victorian state government makes a lot of noises about supporting renewable energy but has done nothing serious which would reinforce their claim. It doesn’t help that some members of this government are clearly climate change denialists.

  2. and regional investment denialists
    and job creation denialists
    and diverse economy denialists
    yet believers in made up medical syndromes….

  3. that’s rich when you would like a carbon tax and probably follow Bob Brown’s lead have ban coal exports. The greens a party that will never be happy until the entire economy has shut up shop

  4. I couldnt believe it when i heard poor old cam try to spin himself into a frenzy on ABC radio today in relation to this!
    I cant believe that there are still people that think its ok to just wack up a turbine within 2km of someones home, and i bet the vast majority of them live in urban areas? how many of them are farmers or people who rely on rural industries to make a living? this is not the way things are done in the country so its pretty easy to see who is pushing this pitiful agenda against rural people.
    Give it a break please and show some respect to peoples lives and families

  5. hi Peter
    I guess you have seen the various polling that consistently says that in rural areas (across the board rather than in every specific area) people support renewables like wind to the order of between 70 and 80%.

    When we started to do our info stalls across rural Vic last year, i really wasn’t sure what response we would get. I almost believed the anti-wind hype, that people were hostile to this energy source. The noisy wheel gets noticed, etc. In reality what I consistently find is that a sizeable – and often overwhelming – majority support the development of wind. Even if people aren’t huge fans of wind as a green energy option (ie if they are not that concerned about climate change) they say that its good for the local economy, it brings in money to land owners, it brings in jobs. People clearly get that, by and large, its a good thing. Sure they might have worries about health or birds, or whatever, but they are willing to engage on the issues, learn more. This is in refreshing contrast to the comments of our regular anti-wind commentators on this site.

    So, in my experience i can safely say that you are dead wrong to say its only people in urban areas who support wind.

    As for myself, I live in Castlemaine.

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