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Great Ocean Road off limits to wind farms

The Bellarine Peninsula and Great Ocean Road have been made no-go zones for wind farms under extensive new planning rules.

But the State Government’s promised crackdown on where wind farms can be constructed has its opponents in a spin.

Trumpeted by the government as a restoration of certainty and fairness to local communities, the new rules effectively give local residents the power to block multi-million dollar wind farm developments within 2km of their houses.

“This is a black day for jobs and a black day for our environment with our local regional economy impacted most,” Corangamite MP Darren Cheeseman said.

“The new Victorian Government has thrown away a major plank of our clean energy future for south west Victoria and Greater Geelong, along with thousands of local construction and ongoing maintenance trades jobs.

“The Great Ocean Road and natural landscapes should always be protected but industrial landscapes such as farmland are certainly appropriate and should be made available.”

Under the reforms, signed off by Planning Minister Matthew Guy, the Bellarine Peninsula and land within 5km of the Great Ocean Road are among a number of no-go zones for wind farm development around the state.

In addition, developments will be blocked if they are within 5km of a major regional centre or within 2km of an existing dwelling unless the owner gives written consent.

“The Coalition Government is committed to giving local communities a key role in deciding where wind farms will go,” Mr Guy said.

But Mr Cheeseman accused the government of caving into “anti-wind energy extremist crackpots”.

“Never in the entire industrial history of Victoria has one industry been singled out with single householders given a power of veto,” Mr Cheeseman said.

The peak body for the clean energy sector claimed up to $3 billion in investment would be lost to the state as a result of the new planning policy.

The Clean Energy Council’s Russell Marsh said the 2km set-back policy would send potential developers interstate.

“Individual landholders can effectively hold developers to ransom under this policy,” he said.

Local councils have been handed back the power to make their own decisions on wind farm applications, with assistance from the Planning Department.