August 1, 2012

Project blown backwards

RENEE ROBINSON | The Advocate | 1 August 2012

Hepburn Wind chairman Simon Holmes Court says Victoria’s wind energy projects have been sent back to square one in the 18 months since Ted Baillieu became premier.

At a press conference with Shadow Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio last Thursday, Mr Holmes Court said Castlemaine, Woodend, Anglesea and Maribyrnong wind projects had been sent back to the drawing board.

“The Castlemaine project was quite advanced but has been sent back to square one, even though it has 360 members committed to a locally owned wind farm,” he said.

“The Woodend project was in the middle of a pine plantation, which is common in northern European countries, but consent was withdrawn because of planning requirements and when Macedon Ranges became a no-go zone for wind turbines.

“The Maribyrnong West Gate project got scuttled and Anglesea also became a no go zone.

“One of the most frustrating things for the Mount Alexander group is that no one has given any explanation of why it can’t go ahead.

“They’ve got some of the best wind in the state but the whole area is out with no explanation why,” he said.

“It doesn’t make sense when there’s demonstrable support for the project and a lack of evidence against.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said she was concerned because in the

18 months Mr Baillieu has been in power “we have seen the winding back of a commitment to renewable energy at a rapid rate”.

“This is not a government in favour of wind energy,” she said.

“What goes out the door is investment in rural and regional Victoria. Regional and rural Victoria has missed out on billions of investment dollars.

“At a time when Victoria is in a jobs crisis you would think Mr Baillieu would be in favour of increasing employment.”

She said South Australia had won more than $5 billion worth of major renewable energy projects in the past year, mainly wind-farm construction.

“South Australia has approved nine new wind farms in one year, compared to none in Victoria,” she said.

“We need a government that says Victoria is open for business, not a government that drives business and investment out of the state.

“In the midst of a jobs crisis Mr Baillieu is killing off wind farm and solar investment knowing these projects would create jobs.

“While South Australia is adding wind projects to their investment queues more Victorians are joining unemployment queues.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said the National party had failed to stand up to the Baillieu government and push for vital infrastructure investment to rural and regional Victoria to support jobs.

“I’m also here to congratulate Hepburn Wind on winning the World Wind Energy Award.

“Sadly this pioneering success story is not likely to be repeated because of the Baillieu government,” she said.

“They will not recommit to the 20 per cent renewable energy target for Victoria that they committed to before the election.

“It seems to have gone in the wind.”

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