Renewable energy has emerged as a mainstream issue in the contested seat of Macedon. Anti-wind farm laws introduced by former Premier Ted Baillieu have cost the region jobs, investment and killed off a community wind farm proposal.
In an electorate profile of Macedon published by The Age, Liberal candidate Donna Petrovich expressed opposition to lifting the Coalition government’s blanket ban on wind farms in the region. Petrovich told The Age:
“A reversion to the ALP policy would mean no planning controls, no two-kilometre buffer, no right of objection – and that is undemocratic. If you look at the way the community reacted here for a proposal for a single-story conference facility in the east paddock of Hanging Rock, I do not think the community would tolerate large-scale wind turbines in this place,” she says.
Ms Petrovich’s response bears little resemblance to the reality of the planning system. Claims of “no planning controls” and “no right to object” simply don’t stack up. Under previous iterations of wind farm planning laws, developers were required to gain approval from the Minister for Planning or municipality. This process was open to public engagement.
What’s undemocratic is creating a precedent in the planning system that makes householder judge, jury and executioner (how’s that for the separation of powers?).
The Coalition’s planning laws give householders living within two kilometres from a proposal power to veto projects. Unlike ‘responsible authorities’ who must take the objective of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 into account in decision making, the current government’s allow a householder to block a wind farm for any reason. This arrangement is obviously highly undemocratic.
Friends of the Earth campaigns coordinator Cam Walker chimed into the debate with a letter to the editor published by The Age, arguing the Coalition’s laws highlight a “double standard” on energy:
Liberal candidate for Macedon Donna Petrovich has highlighted the Coalition’s double standard on energy sources (“Local issues looming in battle for Macedon”, 5/10). She says the ability of residents to block a wind turbine within two kilometres of their home “strikes the right balance,” and removing this power would be “undemocratic.” Yet a resident can be forced to live with an open cut coal mine or gas drilling rig within 100 metres of their home. She is on the record as saying we should further develop our coal resources, and yet the human health impacts of coal and gas are well documented. In contrast, wind energy is a benign energy source.
Ms Petrovich seems to think we should have the right to block wind energy and not other energy sources. Sadly, this type of thinking has effectively stopped the development of wind energy in our state, with loss of jobs, investment, and action on global warming as a result.
This week, Yes 2 Renewables will feature letters to the editor published in the local newspapers. We will highlight the voices of Macedon residents and their views on renewable energy and the government’s anti-wind farm laws. These voices demonstrate an appetite to restore fairness and democracy to the planning system.
The Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group, Yes 2 Renewbles and Woodend Cycles are pleased to present Ride 4 Renewables on Saturday 18 October. Join us on to see the location for what could be the next community wind farm in Victoria (provided those pesky wind bans are dumped!)
When: 18 October 10.30am
Where: Starting at Black Forest Timber Mill on Black Forest Drive to the site of proposed community-owned wind turbines in the pine plantation off Fingerpost Road. There will be a photo opportunity before the return ride to Black Forest Timber Mill. (13km round trip).
RSVP: Book your tickets now at www.mrsgonline.org.au/r4r and share the Facebook event here.
Contact: For further details contact R4R@mrsg.org.au.
Macedon Candidates Forum – Oct 22
Want to ask your candidates about the issues that matter to you? This is your chance.We’re told Transition Towns Riddell will host a election forum featuring Labor, Liberal and Greens candidates for Macedon. This will be a rare chance to see compare and contrast the policies of major party candidates.