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Wind farm ‘handball’ claim as councils fear big expense over compliance  

Credit:  By NEELIMA CHOAHAN | The Courier | April 13, 2013 | www.thecourier.com.au ~~

Seven councils, including Moorabool, Pyrenees and Golden Plain Shire, have asked the Planning Minister Matthew Guy to reconsider a bill that some say could cost ratepayers millions of dollars.

Moorabool mayor Pat Toohey said the bill, which is to be introduced to the Upper House on Monday, sought to overhaul the administration and enforcing of wind farm permits.

“There’s a proposal to transfer responsibility for pre-construction, construction and post-construction compliance of all wind farms on to local councils,” Cr Toohey said.

“Minister Guy is looking to handball significant cost shifting to local government ratepayers.

“This would cost several councils who have wind farms throughout Victoria millions of dollars over the coming years as these wind farms come on line and are constructed and begin operation.”

The former Planning Minister Justin Madden approved three wind farms in Moorabool, totalling 184 turbines.

Cr Toohey said construction could begin as early as a couple of weeks’ time in Lal Lal.

“This area of compliance on wind farms is a very unique skills set that we currently do not have on staff,” Cr Toohey said.

“It would be quite expensive to seek someone with these unique skill sets.

“The council can’t afford this.”

Cr Toohey said there had been no consultation with local government or the community about this proposed amendment to legislation.

He said of particular concern were the administration of contentious planning permits that were ‘called in’ by the Planning Minister.

“This would cost us a one per cent rate increase per annum to do what the Planning Minister is trying to handball to us,” Cr Toohey said.

Pyrenees Shire mayor Michael O’Connor said his council had written directly to the Planning Minister outlining their disappointment at the lack of consultation.

“We have four wind farms that are slated to start construction,” Cr O’Connor said.

“We have concerns regarding two – Waubra wind farm and Stockyard Hill wind farm.”

MAV president and Golden Plains councillor Bill McArthur said his meeting with Minister Guy this week had been very good.

“The real issue around who is responsible for compliance is quite complex,” Cr McArthur said.

“We have asked the Planning Minister to take on board some of the views of the (councils involved) before he progresses.”

Minister for Planning Matthew Guy did not respond before The Courier went to press yesterday.

Source:  By NEELIMA CHOAHAN | The Courier | April 13, 2013 | www.thecourier.com.au

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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