Wind farm companies are scrambling for finance and to begin work on proposed projects before a Victorian planning deadline.
Sources have told weeklytimesnow the number of projects “in the gun” range from 10 to 20 proposals across the state due to the Victorian Government’s changed planning policy.
The Baillieu Government last year declared no-go zones, including Macedon, 5km buffer zones around regional towns like Mildura and Shepparton and gave power to residents to veto projects that had homes within 2km of turbines.
Under the changes companies with permits due to expire could apply for an extension on the condition they start work by March 15.
A Clean Energy Council spokesman said the council would be contacting members in the next few days to gauge the situation.
Friends of the Earth national campaign co-ordinator Cam Walker said the government “killed off” projects last year worth about $500m and the March deadline was the “second round”.
“People don’t want to lose their projects,” he said.
He predicted about 20 projects were dependent on meeting construction requirements before the deadline but said he’d be surprised if half got off the ground.
“Companies are in a mad rush to get finance . . . there’s a number of smaller operators . . . that are on the hunt for money,” Mr Walker said.
He called for the government to re-consider the policy because it was driving an entire sector out of the state.
“It was a policy they formed while in Opposition and it was not very well thought out. It’s pushing an industry and jobs out of the state.”
He said the no-go zones and 5km buffers from regional centres were the biggest problems which were killing off community wind projects like the now defunct Castlemaine proposal.
Greens MP Greg Barber said companies were working to a tight deadline after the government’s changes.
He said he had a list of nine projects, several in south-west Victoria, which would be racing to meet the deadline.
“Even if the nine wind farms come under the wire a third of all remaining permits will expire by 2013 and that’s about 11,000 turbines. All other turbine permits will expire in 2014 and probably will never get permits back under the new rules,” Mr Barber said.
Weeklytimesnow has called the Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s office for comment.
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