March 8, 2011

Wind farm law ‘comes at cost’

BY NEELIMA CHOAHAN, Melton Weekly, 8 March 2011

Moorabool mayor Pat Griffin has welcomed a new amendment forcing new wind farm planning applications to identify all residential properties within two kilometres of the development.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy announced the changes on Friday.

The ruling also restores decision-making powers to councils for wind farms with a capacity of 30 megawatts or more.

Cr Griffin said the changes were in line with the shire’s existing wind farm policy, which stipulates no dwellings within a two-kilometre exclusion zone.

“While the shire will incur extra work and cost as the responsible authority for determining any wind-farm applications, we welcome the change in laws.

“Moorabool Shire is a strong supporter of renewable energy options and strives to conserve resources and lessen our carbon footprint.

“But we are also determined to ensure a fair outcome for all our residents and believe that these decisions are best made locally with all local interests and issues fully considered.”

Cr Griffin said restoring power to councils would require more resources and expertise.

“This will add a further cost burden to the ratepayers, and we will seek support from the state government on this,” he said.

Municipal Association of Victoria chief executive Rob Spence said it was important to ensure councils had the financial and technical support to do the job.

“They should not be left dealing with the problem on their own because they are not experts in wind farms or their technology.”

Mr Guy said a working group chaired by the Department of Planning and Community Development and the MAV would help councils manage wind farm development planning issues.

The minister will continue to be the responsible authority for most projects already approved.

However, yet-to-be-built projects could require minor amendments or time extensions.

Moorabool Council last month asked Mr Guy to overturn a three-turbine wind energy development at Pykes Hill under its two-kilometre guideline before it came before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal this year.

Two wind farms on the outskirts of Moorabool were approved by the previous government last year.

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