According to The Weekly Times, the Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy will amend wind farm planning laws to allow already-approved wind farms to use the best-available technology.
Under the amended planning laws, wind energy companies will be permitted to make minor modifications to boost wind farm efficiency, such as increased turbine capacity or blade length.
Friends of the Earth welcome the changes. The Napthine government’s decision is an acknowledgment there are problems with the wind farm planning laws, and as a positive step forward by the government on wind energy.
The reforms build a foundation for more action. More reform is needed to create jobs and unleash investment in the Victorian renewable energy sector.
Current planning regulations prohibit wind farms within 5km of 20 regional towns; give a right of veto to householders within 2km of a proposed wind farm; and contain arbitrary ‘no-go’ zones that ban wind farms in the windiest parts of the state.
Under the current planning laws, it’s ok for Daylesford to have a community wind farm, yet a project of a similar scale in Woodend—just 40 kilometres away—is prohibited. Double standards such as this are an electoral liability for the government.
Friends of the Earth urge Minister Guy to make another common sense change and exempt community-initiated projects from the wind farm ‘no go’ zones that were established without consultation.
Yet only the full repeal of Ted Baillieu’s anti-wind laws will allow the wind energy sector to invest in Victoria. There are currently no wind farms seeking planning approval in the state. Research published in April found the government’s wind farm restrictions have cost Victoria:
- Projects worth over $864 million in the past three years have either been lost or scrapped due to these laws.
- Some 490 construction and 64 ongoing jobs (for the life of the wind farm)
- At least 438MW of wind energy generation capacity scrapped or stalled – enough to power almost a quarter of a million homes. These projects would have reduced Victoria’s carbon emissions by 1.38 million tonnes per annum.
- Windfarmers have been robbed of over $2.1m worth of drought-proof income each year.
- Local councils in regional municipalities have missed out on over $516,937 P.A in rates from operating wind farms.
If the Napthine government is serious about creating jobs in regional Victoria, it would repeal Ted Bailllieu’s anti-wind farm laws and re-establish a Victorian Renewable Energy Target.