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Wind farm restrictions bring no joy for Devon North opponents

The State Government’s restrictive new planning rules that placed large parts of Victoria off-limits for wind farm developments will not impact the proposed Yarram wind farm in Devon North.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy announced his approval of Amendment VC82, which reforms the way wind farms can be approved and prohibits a wind turbine being constructed within two kilometres of an existing dwelling.

An unexpected restriction blocking the construction of wind farms within five kilometres of major regional centres was also announced.

Mr Guy said without the written consent of homeowners, the turbine placement could not be approved.

“The Coalition Government committed to giving local communities a key role in deciding where wind farms will go, and restoring fairness and certainty to the planning process for wind farms,” Mr Guy said.

“Amendment VC82 delivers on that commitment. I have already given planning control on wind farms back to local councils and have made available resources through the Planning Department to assist councils to make their own decisions on wind farm applications.”

Under the new planning rules all national and state parks would be no-go zones for wind farms.

Mr Guy said the Coalition Government had also ensured wind farms would not be permitted within five kilometres of regional growth areas, as specified in the Regional Victoria Settlement Framework.

“It is important that while wind energy develops, it does not do so to the detriment of rural and regional Victorians,” Mr Guy said.

Despite the new planning rules, the Yarram wind farm will still go ahead regardless of several residences being less than two kilometres away from the proposed site.

As part of their election commitment the Victorian Government promised not to retrospectively apply these rules to existing planning approvals.

A spokesperson for Deputy Premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan said the Yarram wind farm would not be affected by the new planning rules because it had already been approved.

Shadow Minister for Planning, Brian Tee said the wind farm policy was flawed and would cost jobs and investment in regional Victoria, stunt the growth of the wind farm industry and do nothing for the environment.

Friends of the Earth campaign co-ordinator Cam Walker said the restrictions would cost Victoria “billions of dollars and thousands of jobs”.

“At a time when we urgently need to generate more clean energy, this policy is sending us back to the dark ages,” Mr Walker said.

“These strict planning restrictions do not apply to any other major developments, and make it easier to build a coal mine in rural Victoria than a wind farm.”

Australian hydroelectric and wind farm specialist company Pacific Hydro general manager Lane Crockett acknowledged the release of the Planning Amendment and expressed concerns about the precedent it will set for all infrastructure development in the state.

He said Pacific Hydro would not pursue future project developments in Victoria.

For more read Friday’s Gippsland Times.