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Waubra welcomes wind farm policy change

Waubra residents have welcomed a state government decision to stop wind turbines being constructed within two kilometres of houses.

The two-kilometre buffer zone is one of a range of new wind farm planning rules, announced by the Baillieu government yesterday.

Under the reforms, wind farm developers will require written consent from homeowners if they want to construct a wind turbine within two kilometres of an existing dwelling.

The reforms also block the construction of wind farms within five kilometres of major regional centres, including Ballarat, and introduce “no-go” zones for wind farms at places such as Wilson’s Promontory, the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas, and Surf Coast and Great Ocean Road regions.

The amendments are not retrospective, and will not apply to the nine wind farms currently operating in Victoria, including the 128-turbine facility at Waubra.

But residents in Waubra yesterday told The Courier that the changes were a positive step forward.

“Of course, I’m thrilled for everybody else,” said Maggie Reid, whose Stud Farm Road property is within two kilometres of 23 turbines.

“It’s too late for us and we’re suffering, but it’s tremendous to think that the government has taken on board our concerns.”

Evansford resident Robyn Brew said she did not believe the Waubra wind farm would exist had the new planning rules been in place years ago.

“There are a lot (of turbines) on Stud Farm Road and I’m guessing that the northern end of the Waubra wind farm would not have been built,” she said.

But Donald Thomas said he did not believe the government had gone far enough.

“Personally, I think at the moment if a five kilometre set-back was in, it would be much more realistic,” he said.

“Where I live, three-and-a-half kilometres north of the wind farm, we still can have terrible nights.”

Planning Minister Matthew Guy said the government considered two kilometres an “appropriate buffer”.

He said the government had determined the distance based on research undertaken in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Mr Guy said he did not believe the two kilometre set-back policy would force developers to take their wind farm projects interstate.

“This will be a first in Australia and we’re very proud of that,” he said.

“We’ve changed the law so regional Victorians are not treated as second-class citizens.”