August 16, 2006
THE Victorian Greens have promised to stop the construction of wind farms opposed by local residents, despite their policies of supporting renewable energy.
The first wind farm on the Greens’ hit list will be the $220 million Bald Hills wind farm in South Gippsland, which was controversially vetoed earlier this year by the Federal Government over a perceived threat to the endangered orange-bellied parrot.
That decision is now being reconsidered after the project’s developer took the Government to the Federal Court and is now preparing to resubmit plans for the 52-turbine project.
But Greens energy spokesman and upper house candidate for eastern Victoria, Louis Delacretaz, said his party’s policy should not be seen as supporting the Federal Government’s reasons for originally stopping Bald Hills.
“Clearly the evidence is now (that the Government veto) wasn’t due to the orange-bellied parrot, it was really just a political football,” Mr Delacretaz said.
But like the state Liberal and Nationals, the Greens have pledged not to support wind farms in areas without residents’ backing. “We’re strong supporters of renewable energy, but the local community has to be supportive of the site and the application. That means you’ve got to bring local people on-board, you can’t just impose something on them.”
Victorian Environment Minister John Thwaites attacked the policy, claiming it showed the Greens were not serious about renewable energy.
“This demonstrates that the Bracks Government has much stronger environmental credentials than the Greens,” Mr Thwaites said.
But Nationals leader Peter Ryan supported the Greens’ stance, having spent the morning with Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell and residents of Foster North, who are fighting the proposed Dollar wind farm in Gippsland.
“It’s good to see some common sense coming from the Greens, and we look forward to their support on the Dollar wind farm as well,” Mr Ryan said.
AusWind chief executive Dominique La Fontaine expressed surprise at the Greens’ policy, questioning how they would objectively determine the level of community support for a wind farm. “Is it a straw poll? What numbers are we talking about?” Ms La Fontaine asked.
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