At the weekend, hundreds of Gippsland farmers and community members joined Melbournians to send Premier Napthine a message about Victoria’s energy future. The 1000-strong rally marched through the heart of Melbourne, gathering at the State Library to present Greens leader, Greg Barber MLC, with petition signed by 11,000 calling for a ban on new coal and unconventional gas mining in Victoria.
Unlike unconventional gas extraction, wind energy can provide Victorians with a reliable source of electricity while increasing farm productivity. Wind farms generate a drought-proof income stream for turbine hosts, neighbours (see Coonooer Bridge wind farm), and communities.
Unfortunately for Victoria, laws introduced by former Premier Ted Baillieu unfairly target the wind energy sector and stand in the way of efforts to address climate change.
Current Victorian planning regulations allow a polluting coal seam gas well to be located just 100m from a home, whereas clean and safe wind turbines have a two kilometre setback. In Anglesea, residents have no say over a coal mine and power plant operating less than one kilometre from their town.
The Victorian planning scheme bans wind farms from large swathes of the state. ‘No-go’ zones prevent clean, renewable energy projects in areas with the richest wind energy resource, such as the Macedon and McHarg Ranges. There are also 21 regional towns where wind farms are prohibited within a five kilometre radius–a move that rules out community-owned projects.
Polls consistently show Victorians strongly support wind farms. According to one poll, commissioned by Pacific Hydro in 2012, 82 percent of Victorians want more wind power in the state.
It’s about time Premier Napthine reforms his government’s energy policy so it aligns with the views of Victorians. On wind energy and on unconventional gas.