A leaked planning report recommending a controversial Victorian wind farm proceed was not worth releasing because the project was dumped, Planning Minister Justin Madden said.
The 48-turbine Dollar Wind Farm, proposed for a site in south-east Victoria, was scrapped last month when the proponent AGL Energy Limited pulled out.
Opponents of the $140 million project were fighting for access to a planning panel’s report into whether the project should proceed.
They took their battle to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) but the project was withdrawn before their case was resolved.
ABC radio has obtained a leaked copy of the report which, contrary to speculation, endorsed the project going ahead.
But Planning Minister Justin Madden defended the government’s decision to withhold the draft report, saying it was meaningless when the project was not going to proceed.
“There’s no conspiracy here, it is a document which had no status once the project was withdrawn,” Mr Madden told ABC radio.
“The project was not going ahead so there was no point in having a document out there that speculated on a project that was never going to exist.
“We’re happy to be open and accountable on the decisions we make, there was no decision here, there was no decision that needed to be made.”
AGL general manager Jeff Dimery said he had no problem with the report being made public.
AGL had inherited the wind farm project from Meridien Energy when it acquired their renewable energy business but found it unviable, he said.
“We looked at that and after due consideration we decided that it wasn’t going to be … commercially economical to go ahead and build that power station,” he told the ABC.
“Whilst the Victorian government were proactive in announcing the Victorian renewable energy target, even taking that into consideration, this was not an optimal site to build a wind farm.”
The wind farm was to be built near the communities of Dollar, Meeniyan, Dumbalk, Foster and Stony Creek, in south Gippsland.
It would have contributed 79 megawatts (MW) to the Victorian government’s target of creating 1,000 megawatts of wind energy by 2010.
5 September 2007
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