Liberal Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay wants wind energy companies to take responsibility for the impact they have on rural roads.
Mr Ramsay raised the issue in Parliament last week, saying shires had underestimated the impact of wind farm developments on their roads.
This follows an estimate by Moyne Shire Council that construction traffic to the Macarthur wind farm had left it with road repair bills totalling between $50 million and $60m.
Mr Ramsay said the previous State Government gave development permits without appropriate protection for rural roads.
“It is only now councils are waking up to the mess created by the previous government in relation to wind farm permits and are looking to the State Government for assistance,” he said.
“I say look to the generators to restore the damage they have caused to our roads, not the government.
“Councils, under the Local Government Act, have the capacity to introduce a differential charge for ‘special-purpose’ services and therefore need to consider applying a charge to wind farm generators to rectify this anomaly, which is a huge impost on the community right across my electorate of Western Victoria, not just the Moyne Shire,” he said.
However, the Clean Energy Council disputes claims the developers it represents leave roads damaged.
Council policy director Russell Marsh said it would be unfair to make wind farm development the scapegoat in areas used constantly by other heavy vehicles.
“Before construction starts on all new wind farms in Victoria, the local council carefully considers its traffic management plan to ensure it is respectful of the local community,” Mr Marsh said.
“Any new major project wind farm or otherwise can cause inconvenience for those nearby.
“We need to be careful about unfairly making wind farms the scapegoat in areas heavily used by vehicles such as petrol tankers, livestock trucks and haulage trucks for other industries.
“Wind farm companies are generally required to restore local roads to a high standard once the project is complete, which will be in the first quarter of 2013 for the Macarthur Wind Farm, according to AGL.”
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