Friends of the Earth media release, March 16 2012
Planning Minister Matthew Guy is playing a high risk strategy if he thinks he can give the go-ahead to some wind farms that were first approved by Labor, then criticise Labor for its stance on wind energy, Friends of the Earth renewable energy campaigner Ben Courtice said today.
“Last year the Baillieu government implemented regressive planning laws that ban wind projects across much of the best wind resource in the state. As a result of this law, Victoria has already lost the potential for up to $525 million investment in wind farm developments, equating to up to 1,400 jobs.
“In 2012, two more wind farms – at Yarram and Naroghid – appear to have lost their planning approval on expiry, instead of having their permits rolled over.
“On a rough pro-rata calculation based on a similar development, these two projects could add as much as $100 million to the total investment lost, and up to 200 construction and 6 ongoing jobs.
“Contrast this to Mr Guy’s press release yesterday stating that he has approved $400 million worth of wind farm projects. When you compare the two figures, it is clear that Baillieu’s policy is costing the state overall.
“Mr Guy is to be congratulated for granting extensions to a number of wind farms to allow them to proceed. He would be wise to stop attacking the Opposition given the laws that his government has enacted.”
Projects at Ryans Corner (near Yambuk), Hawkesdale, Salt Creek, Woolsthorpe and Mt Gellibrand have commenced construction after development plans were approved and extensions granted by the Planning Minister.
“We are very happy that these projects are able to proceed, and that they have commenced construction,” Mr Courtice said.
“But forcing developers to commit to construction at the risk of losing the project – and all that they have invested in developing it – is not necessarily something that this government should be boasting about. It shows poor understanding of how large energy projects are financed.
“Sadly, as more planning approvals from the previous government come up for renewal, we are likely see the number of approved turbines steadily decrease.
“Few developers are likely to try and develop new wind farm projects in the state under the current planning regime. Our assessment still stands: the Baillieu government’s wind farm planning laws will continue to cost us jobs, investement, and opportunities for regional development as the developers go interstate, and previously approved projects are lost.”
The Friends of the Earth assessment of the costs of the Victorian governments wind policy can be found here.