Voices of Macedon: Winds of change in the Macedon Ranges

Macedon Wind Ban
Macedon Ranges residents gather on the border of the govt’s blanket ban on wind farms.

Renewable energy is a mainstream election issue in the hotly-contested seat of Macedon.

The Coaltion’s anti-wind farm laws have hit the Macedon Ranges hard. They have cost the region jobs, investment and killed off a community wind farm proposal.

The seat of Macedon was previously united by uniform planning laws that allowed community engagement in the development process. But since 2011, the region has been subjected to smothering regulations. A large-scale blanket ban on wind farms cuts across the electorate.

Seat of MacedonOn August 30, the third anniversary of the Coalition’s anti-wind farm laws, Yes 2 Renewables, the Macedon Ranges Sustainability group and community members gathered on the border of the “no-go zone.” We sought to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of the Coalition’s wind farm ban.

Marie Lakey, who grew up on Mount Macedon, decided to get active and highlight exactly why she wants wind power in her region. The Midland Express published Marie’s views in the letters to the editor column:

Last Sunday (Aug 31) I joined locals from across the Macedon Ranges to call on the Napthine government to dumpy the blanket ban on wind farms.

We gathered on the third anniversary of the Ted Baillieu anti-wind farm laws to highlight the impact of the government’s blanket ban on wind energy.

Since its introduction in 2011, numerous community wind farm projects across the state have been killed off, including one near Woodend. It nullified years of work carried out by the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group which was set to follow in the footsteps of the successful Hepburn Wind Farm, located close by.

Under these detrimental planning laws, Hepburn region is able to thrive on it’s community-owned wind farm at Leonard’s Hill, but yet a project of similar scale located in Woodend is prohibited.

This was devastating for those who had worked for so long on the Woodend wind project and those community members who took part.

It’s sad that we have to fight this fight.

I grew up on Mount Macedon and communities should be able to take charge of their energy future, especially when the Abbott government seems intent on stalling renewable energy and taking backward steps to tackle global warming.

The proposed community wind farm in Woodend would have created 30 construction jobs. six ongoing jobs for the 30 year life of the project, $151,000 worth of flow-on economic benefits to the region up to $45,000 worth of community grant funds, $24,000 worth of drought-proof income for wind farm hosts, and enough clean electricity to power all the homes and businesses in Woodend, Macedon, Mt Macdeon and Newham.

Macedon locals are undertaking a community survey on the regions energy future and have collected more that 500 responses which are overwhelmingly positive. People want these laws to change. They want to be able to benefit from clean, renewable energy.

The Napthine government has the opportunity to shift its wind energy policies to be back in line with community views. But that window of opportunity is quickly shrinking as the election draws near. I hope the premier and fellow party members take heed of rural voices that support renewables.

Victorians are passionate about renewable energy. Polling commissioned by the Climate Institute finds 71 per cent of Victorians support state government policies that encourage more renewable energy.

Birds Eye Macedon
Macedon Ranges locals at the completion of the People’s Climate March in Kyneton.

When one considers the passion and the polling, it’s clear that the parties with a pro-renewable energy stance will have an advantage on polling day.

The Labor party and The Greens are committed to ‘ripping up’ the anti-wind farm laws and restoring fairness to the planning scheme. The Coalition still has time to adopt a pro-renewable energy policy before November 29. The window of opportunity is there, but it’s closing.

TAKE ACTION

  • Sign our petitioncalling on Premier Napthine to encourage renewable energy jobs by scrapping anti-wind farm laws and setting a Victorian Renewable Energy Target.

Join us at the Macedon Candidates Forum – Wed Oct 22

TTR Invite FBWant 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.

When: Wednesday 22 October, 7pm to 9pm.
Where: Riddells Creek Pub, Station St, Riddells Creek VIC 3431
RSVP: Book your tickets now on EventBrite and share the Facebook event here

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