The commitment to wind farm development across the south-west has entered stormy territory with two state election candidates embroiled in a war of words.
South West Coast independent candidate James Purcell fired the first shot at the weekend, claiming hundreds of jobs would be lost throughout the district under a Liberal policy to “drastically alter” wind farm development regulations.
But sitting Liberal member Denis Napthine yesterday labelled Mr Purcell’s comments as “scare tactics”.
Dr Napthine told The Standard that the independent was deliberately misleading voters.
Mr Purcell said the Liberal’s policy meant that wind farms could not be established within two kilometres of any residence.
“If the Liberal Party is elected in Victoria, the 20 wind farm projects across Moyne are under jeopardy,” Mr Purcell said.
“This would mean the loss of hundreds of jobs and $8 billion of investment for our region.”
Mr Purcell said the Liberal Party and Dr Napthine “obviously had little regard” for the electorate.
“This legislation could absolutely devastate our region.
“Not only will it mean the end of these projects in their current format, it will also place any future projects at threat.
“Government should be working towards enhancing our region, keeping our best interests at heart.
“Instead it appears policies are being structured for the benefits of the political party, not for our region. It’s time for support for our region – not further policies that will send our region backwards.”
Dr Napthine said under Liberal policy announced in May, no turbines could be built within two kilometres of a house unless there was an agreed contract between the resident and wind farm developer.
He said in the vast majority of existing cases, residents within a two-kilometre radius had supported the projects. The ban on turbines would only apply if agreement could not be reached.
“Mr Purcell is trying to run a scare campaign. Yes, we need wind farms, yes we support wind farms, but we need to get the balance right between developers and local people who want to protect their local environment and their local community.”
Dr Napthine said his party had supported major developments at Codrington, Yambuk, Portland and Macarthur.
He said Mr Purcell was criticising a policy that was aimed at certainty in planning.
“He ought to know better. He is the mayor of a council who quite rightly blocked The Sisters wind farm. He knows there are some areas where they shouldn’t go ahead. He’s trying to straddle a barbed wire fence.”
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