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Environmental groups welcome wind farm planning changes

The Victorian Landscape Guardians and the Australian Environment Foundation have welcomed Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s announcement of amendments to planning provisions for the establishment of wind farms in Victoria.

The amendment reforms the way wind farms can be approved and prohibits a wind turbine being constructed within two kilometres of an existing dwelling, unless there is written consent from the owner of the dwelling.

The amendment also ensures wind farms would not be permitted within five kilometres of regional growth areas and establishes no-go zones for wind farms in the Yarra Valley, Dandenong Ranges, Mornington Peninsula, Bellarine Peninsula and Great Ocean Road region, the Macedon and McHarg Ranges, and the Bass Coast.

Randall Bell, president of the Victorian Landscape Guardians said “We welcome the announcement of the Baillieu Government’s commitment to landscape conservation in declaring some Victorian landscapes off limits for wind farms.

“Significantly, from a planning perspective, the Baillieu Government has signalled that, unlike the Bracks/Brumby Governments, the landscape and rural communities are front and centre in the planning process.

“Sadly, for many landscapes such as Cape Bridgewater and Bald Hills, it is too late. Despite this recognition the prospect remains that, with carbon tax sourced funding and federal government subsidies, the Victorian landscape could still become an industrialised pin cushion of 150 metre high wind turbines.

Max Rheese, executive director of the Australian Environment Foundation said the new requirement for wind farms to be at least five kilometres from regional growth centres will address the concerns of some rural residents.

“The planning provisions put in place by the previous government were obviously biased towards wind farm developers with little regard for the health and well-being of rural residents and this announcement restores some balance.

“Health concerns acknowledged by the recent Senate inquiry, which made recommendations for medical studies into the effects of wind farms must now proceed without delay for the many people who already live closer than 2 kilometres to hundreds of existing wind turbines” said Mr Rheese.