Councils challenge wind ban

The following comes from the Weekly Times. Johanna Leggatt,  February 29, 2012

VICTORIAN local councils are taking their fight against wind farm bans to the State Government.

The City of Greater Bendigo has written to the Government seeking a revision of the planning laws, which restrict new wind farms in parts of the state.

Mount Alexander Shire Council requested an exemption from the laws last year, while the Woodend Integrated Sustainable Energy group has indicated it will also push for Macedon Ranges Shire Council to seek a reprieve from regulations.

In August last year, the Victorian Government gave households the power to veto any turbine construction within 2km of their homes.

They also declared areas of the state “no-go zones” for wind farms, including parts of the Macedon and McHarg ranges, the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas, the Yarra Valley, and within 5km of the Great Ocean Road and the Bass Coast.

Greater Bendigo councillor Keith Reynard said he feared the wind farm rules deterred crucial investment in rural areas.

“Half of the (Bendigo) municipality is in a no-go zone, and we have no flexibility and no way of knowing what the basis was for the Government making this decision,” said Mr Reynard.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy said he was not about to change the planning laws but “the door was always open for discussion”.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Kobad Bhavnagri said new modelling indicated the Victorian regulations could place upward pressure on electricity prices, as companies were forced to look to other, more expensive, states for investment.

“Our modelling indicates this could cost electricity retailers an additional $1.8 billion (over the next decade) which is likely to be passed on to consumers through higher national electricity prices,” he said.

The nation’s largest independent renewable energy producer, Pacific Hydro, has also confirmed it is pulling out of any future wind farm investment in Victoria, saying “there was no point to investing in the current climate”.

Pacific Hydro’s Australian general manager, Lane Crockett, said the company was committed to completing three wind farms approved by the former Labor government but would not seek any new sites.
Mr Guy said the Bloomberg analysis “was not based on existing projects”, and said suggestions the laws were deterring investment “were absolutely incorrect”.

4 thoughts on “Councils challenge wind ban

  1. Mount Alexander Shire DID NOT request an exemption to the laws.
    The Minutes of Council Meeting of 13 Sept. 2011 read:

    That Council
    1. Request the CEO to write to the Premier asking for a review on the prohibition of wind farms to the east of the Calder freeway,
    2. That the letter make reference to the potential economic loss to the Shire. That removing the prohibition would not lead to large scale wind development and Council‟s support for the other regulations such as requiring permission from landowners within 2km

    The Motion was originally developed by a Cr. Machin who at the time was a Board Member of the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group, a “non profit” that stands to make plenty out of any wind farm development. Cr. Machin then got a fellow councillor, Cr. Redden, to put forward the Motion so she could wriggle out of any Conflict of Interest charges.

    Very close to abuse of the Local Government Act.

    1. How exactly would a sustainability group that is also a non-profit stand to make plenty out of windfarm development? Your claim is nonsense, it certainly isn’t supported by evidence.

  2. James,
    i’m not a lawyer, but I would have thought that by ascribing motive to cr Machin as you have in your suggestion that she ‘got’ another councillor to put forward a motion, then to use your words you’re ‘very close to abuse’ of the laws covering libel.

    Nice conspiracy theory about MASG, by the way. Of course when it comes to wind energy there always has to be shadowy motives by anyone thats pro wind, in this instance, its all about making profit. Yawn.

  3. James, you’re quite right that the council isn’t asking for a full exemption to the policy – only to some of the policy. The Council’s motion clearly supports the 2km right of veto of landowners. Its the wind exclusion zone East of the Calder Freeway that they have an issue with

    The Council’s letter to government clearly articulates their support for community-owned and community-scale wind projects and their concern that the new government wind regulations will take investment and benefit of these types of projects away from the Shire. I think you could say that “removing the prohibition” (of wind farms east of Calder Freeway) is pretty much the same as asking for an exemption from the exclusion zones included in the policy, so as to enable community wind projects to proceed in that part of the Shire.

    Also, in my personal communications with Cr Redden since, he is quite proud of having put the above mentioned motion, so I don’t think there was any coercion involved.

    Lastly, Mount Alexander Community Wind is a project of MASG that is in very early stages of development. Read the materials on Once set up,the project is going to be owned by local shareholders, not MASG. Their visions is for any profits made to go back to local share holders and to a Foundation. Sounds like a good way to keep money and decision making in the local community to me (though I am biased, cause I’m a strong believer in the benefits of community renewable energy and am involved in the project).

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