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No-go zones: McHarg Ranges safe after wind farm decision

District greenies and landcare groups are celebrating the enactment of the Coalition Government’s wind turbine planning policy. The amendment reforms the way wind farms can be approved and prohibits a wind turbine from 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 will not be permitted within 5km of regional growth areas and establishes the McHarg and Macedon ranges as no-go zones for wind farm technology.

Local environmental groups, including the Granite Boulders Guardians, campaigned heavily against proposed wind farms in the Macedon and McHarg Ranges and attracted the support of the Tooborac community, which largely opposed the project that would have seen wind turbines built on local residents’ back doorsteps.

Victorian Landscape Guardians president Randall Bell said the group welcomed the commitment of the Baillieu government to landscape conservation.

‘‘Significantly, from a planning perspective, the Bailleu government has signalled that, unlike the Bracks/Brumby Governments, the landscape and rural communities are front and centre in the planning process,’’ he said.

The amendment specifically rules out land in the Macedon and McHarg Ranges – defined as all land in the Macedon Ranges planning scheme – all land west of the Hume and Goulburn Valley Hwy in the Mitchell scheme, and all land bounded by the McIvor and Calder highways in the Greater Bendigo and Mount Alexander planning schemes.

The amendment also prohibits the development of wind farms on land within 5km of major regional cities and centres specified in the Regional Victoria Settlement Framework, part of the State Planning Policy Framework, which includes Greater Bendigo.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy said the amendment also gives the first right of planning approval back to local government.

‘‘While the Coalition Government remains a strong supporter of renewable energy development, and the vast majority of the state is still available for wind farm proposals, I have acted to give planning control back to councils and communities,’’ Mr Guy said.