ELEANOR HALL: In Victoria, The Bracks Government has approved plans for the largest wind farm project in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Macarthur wind farm in southwestern Victoria will provide power for up to 190,000 homes each year.
And planning Minister Rob Hulls says it’s proof of the Bracks Government’s commitment to tackling climate change.
But opponents of the project say it’s a cynical grab for green votes, as Alison Caldwell reports.
ALISON CALDWELL: The Macarthur wind farm in southwest Victoria will be the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.
The Planning Minister Rob Hulls says it’s proof of the Bracks Governments commitment to tackling climate change.
ROB HULLS: It will produce enough energy, some 329 mega watts to power almost a 190 000 homes a year. It’s a $600 million project and it will also create jobs for the local community between 600 and 900 direct jobs.
So this is a great bonus not only for the local community but for the environment right around this country.
ALISON CALDWELL: There’s an election just a few weeks away in Victoria now, is this a cynical grab for the green vote?
ROB HULLS: No this has gone through a very extensive process and it went to an independent panel, it generated almost 1300 submissions and I’m pleased to say that a majority of those supported the wind farm.
In fact almost 89 per cent of all submissions supported the wind farm and it is part of the Bracks Government supporting a package of renewable energy measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I mean, the fact is that global warming is real, it’s here now and all governments should be doing as much as they can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
ALISON CALDWELL: The Macarthur project has the support of the Liberal Opposition.
Local member Dennis Napthine.
DENNIS NAPTHINE: I certainly do welcome this approval. The Macarthur wind farm projects has been on the books for a number of years now and it has broad community support. It will provide jobs. It is a good location for a wind farm and I support it.
ALISON CALDWELL: But the project has it’s opponents. Randal Bell is a spokesman for the group, Victorian Landscape Guardians.
RANDAL BELL: It’s the largest bird and bat blender in the world. In a word, farcical.
ALISON CALDWELL: Rob Hull said they received 1200 submissions and most of them were in favour.
RANDALL BELL: Well I can do that for you tomorrow by getting friends and family and some lobby groups to sign a pro-former.
ALISON CALDWELL: Randal Bell claims the Bracks Government is sitting on a number of reports, which condemn wind farms.
He believes today’s announcement is a cynical grab for the green vote.
RANDALL BELL: That’s what Mr Hulls has got to start with. He’s saying this is going to save a shovel full of brown coal into a generator in the La Trobe Valley because it won’t.
ALISON CALDWELL: Rob Hulls denies the Brack’s Government is hiding any reports on individual wind farms. As for whether the Macarthur project will prevent one shovel full of coal in the La Trobe valley though.
ROB HULLS: Look the fact is that we have a V-RET scheme which is a Victorian Renewable Energy Target and that scheme is all about attracting renewable energy in this state.
That scheme will abate some 27 million tonnes of greenhouse gases over the life of the scheme.
It’s a minimum targets, we can go beyond that target by 2016 but it is important as a government that we have a whole package of measures that reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions and we believe that the announcement of this wind farm today is a substantial investment in reducing Greenhouse gas emissions.
ELEANOR HALL: Victoria’s planning minister Rob Hulls ending Alison Caldwell’s report.
Reporter: Alison Caldwell
Eleanor Hall hosts The World Today’s lunch hour of current affairs, with background and debate from Australia and the world. Monday to Friday, 12:10pm, ABC Local Radio and Radio National.
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