Community run and owned renewable energy projects will be back on the agenda, under a Labor government.
Labor will wind back the restrictive planning controls put in place by the Coalition government in 2011, which Labor says has stopped dozens of wind farm projects, cost thousands of jobs and driven investment interstate.
The blanket bans restrict community-run wind farms, and also prohibits wind farms in the windiest parts of the state, including the Macedon/McHarg Ranges and Bellarine Peninsula.
Under the current laws, householders also have the right to veto wind turbines within a two kilometres of a residence.
But Labor will make changes to allow for community wind farms, including a proposal at Macedon Ranges to establish a ‘community wind farm’, supported by locals to reduce energy costs.
Hepburn Wind, Victoria’s only community owned wind farm, was opened just weeks before the blanket bans were put in place.
The Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group (MRSG) released a report on residents’ views at the site of a community-owned wind farm near Daylesford last Thursday.
The report included results of a community survey, which found that 86 per cent of Macedon respondents supported community wind farms similar to those at Hepburn Wind.
Friends of the Earth has welcomed today’s announcement to ‘rip up’ the worst aspects of anti-wind farm laws.
“Labor’s announcement on wind energy is a welcome first step for getting Victoria back on track with renewable energy,” said Friends of the Earth’s renewable energy spokesperson, Leigh Ewbank.
“The announcement paves the way for broader reform of wind energy planning laws.”
However, he said if Labor was serious about wind energy development, they would have to dump the blanket bans on wind farms in places such as the Macedon Ranges.
“Labor’s pledge to exempt community-initiated projects from wind farm restrictions is sensible policy,” he said.
“Yet, the blanket bans on wind farms still prohibit commercial projects that enjoy strong community support.”
Mr Ewbank is also calling on the Victorian government to develop a state Renewable Energy Target.
The Victorian Greens have backed the call for a Victorian Renewable Energy Target.
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