Nail in the coffin: Mighell
This article comes from the Latrobe Valley Express, journalist: JARROD WHITTAKER
THE introduction of restrictive new wind farm planning laws has “driven a nail in the coffin” of plans to establish green manufacturing in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria’s state’s top electrical unionist has warned.
Electrical Trades Union Victorian secretary Dean Mighell said restrictions introduced by the Baillieu Government, which restrict where wind farms can be located, would drive renewable jobs interstate.
“It kills real prospect of establishing those jobs we think should be established in the Valley, on the back of what we did with Siemens (to construct wind turbines in the region) 12 years ago,” Mr Mighell said.
The State Government’s planning amendment prohibits the construction of wind turbines within two kilometres of an existing property unless there is written permission from the owner.
It also prevents turbines being established in national and state parks, in addition to a number of regions including the Yarra Valley, Ballarine Peninsula and Bass Coast.
The ETU has previously sought Federal Government support for the establishment of wind turbine manufacturing in the Latrobe Valley to assist with job creation following a shift away from coal-fired power generation.
Mr Mighell sought government support to attract green manufacturing jobs to the region after his union indicated it would oppose the carbon tax due to a perceived lack of alternative energy jobs in the government’s carbon package.
However, State Member for Morwell Russell Northe said he was not aware of any proposal to construct wind turbines in the Latrobe Valley, but indicated his support for establishing alternative industries in the region.
“We would love to see the Latrobe Valley and wider Gippsland be the energy capital of Victoria, whether that should be through the use of brown coal through a cleaner environmental manner or manufacturing cleaner energy products,” Mr Northe said.
He said the State Government’s new rules would provide certainty to the wind manufacturing industry while delivering on a Coalition election promise.
“This policy has been well understood for a long period of time and we believe it strikes the right balance between community needs and provides some certainty for wind energy development,” Mr Northe said.
Following the announcement the Clean Energy Council said the decision would cost Victoria’s economy about $3 billion in investment.
The statement accused the State Government of “carving out” large sections of the state as “no-go zones” and sending a message that the state was closed to future wind-generation opportunities.
Gippsland Trades and Labour Council secretary John Parker said his organisation supported establishing wind farm industries in Gippsland, but believed the bulk of their components would be established in high-wind areas such as Portland.
GTLC is attempting to develop low-carbon industry transition plans for the region and Mr Parker said he supported exclusion zones around properties.
“If you don’t do that you will wind up running out of social licence (for the wind farms), the protest will get too loud and that’s what happened in the Bass Coast,” Mr Parker said.
However, he said he did not support banning the development of wind farms in whole regions, except where it would impact on another industry.
“There are areas in the Bass Coast which are not environmentally sensitive to having wind farms and it would be silly for them to (ban) a complete region,” Mr Parker said.