A test case for Victoria’s tough new wind farm policy is looming.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy has warned that all decisions on new and pending projects should take account of the incoming changes ahead of new guidelines.
The state’s Supreme Court has ordered the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to rehear the case of a proposed 12-turbine wind farm that was refused council approval.
The Sisters wind farm near Terang, 220km west of Melbourne, would put turbines within 500m of residents who oppose the project, defying the Coalition’s policy for a 2km buffer zone.
While a spokesman for the project, run by Wind Farm Developments, said he believed the new policy would not apply, Mr Guy said VCAT should take account of the coming changes.
“We would expect VCAT and any other responsible authority for wind farms to be very mindful of the new government’s intentions on our setbacks policy before it is formally implemented,” he told The Australian.
Apart from The Sisters, two proposed wind farms, at Chepstowe and Pykes Hill, are currently seeking approval. No new applications for wind farms have been made since the November election, but Mr Guy said the industry’s predictions of a wind farm exodus to more friendly states was false. “People are advancing existing applications irrespective of the guidelines we’ve submitted.”
Beef farmer Neil Blain, who would have a turbine 450m from his property if The Sisters went ahead, was confident the project would be knocked back.
The tribunal last year ruled The Sisters should not proceed, applying 2010 New Zealand noise standards to assess its impact. The court found VCAT erred by not keeping to 1998 acoustic standards.
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