Wind farm buffers slashed, veto rights curbed by Victorian Government renewables push
Credit: Brakes put on rights to stop wind farms | Alex White | Herald Sun | March 20, 2015 | www.heraldsun.com.au ~~
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Wind farming buffer zones will be slashed after the Andrews Government announced it would overhaul planning laws to boost jobs in the renewable sector.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the ability for householders to veto proposed wind turbine development will be reduced from a 2km to 1km.
The Government has also announced the development of a Victorian Renewable Energy Action Plan, which he said would attract big investors.
The announcement was made in Ballyrogan this morning but comes two months after a pilot Victorian study released in January discovered patterns in noise not previously detected.
Researchers said the findings provided a foundation to warrant further studies on the impact of health in wind farms.
The study was commissioned by Pacific Hydro, after complaints that residents nearby had suffered ringing in their ears, chest pressure and headaches.
Anti-turbine advocate Randall Bell said farms in Australia had proved to not be economically and environmentally viable and said the move was Mr Andrews looking for “Green votes’.
“They have been proved to harm people, they do not affect everybody but they do affect a substantial number of people’’ Mr Bell said.
“They harm birds and they destroy the landscape,’’ he said.
Mr Andrews said a bid to remove red tape meant Planning Minister Richard Wynne would be the sole responsible authority on wind farm proposals from next month.
“One law and one decision maker for the whole state.’’
“I want see the number of jobs in the wind sector grow and I want to see the contribution, that renewable and particularly the energy wind power makes to our overall power sector.’’
He said turbine energy amounted to 10 per cent of the energy created in Victoria from renewables.
Mr Wynne said he would consult with local government on proposals.
The national policy on the renewable energy target was still up in the air which Mr Andrews admitted left uncertainty in the industry but said the 4000-job sector was expected to grow.
“The Abbott Government isn’t doing a thing for renewable energy. Victoria is leading the way.”
“Victoria is open for business. Investors want to come to Victoria and back renewable energy. The Liberals said no.
We’re saying yes.”
A $20 million New Energy Jobs Fund will offer support to community groups and businesses.
The sector is forecast to bring $36 billion in investment and the policy to promote the industry was announced by Mr Andrews during his election campaign.
Friends of the Earth welcomed the Premier’s announcement.
“The announcement paves the way for broader reform of wind energy planning laws,’’ energy spokesman, Leigh Ewbank said.
“Labor’s pledge to exempt community-initiated projects from wind farm restrictions is sensible policy. Yet, the blanket bans on wind farms still prohibit projects that enjoy strong community support.”
Greens energy spokesman Ellen Sandell said the Victorian Government’s reforms needed to go further.
“Wind farm buffer zones are completely unnecessary. The noise controls in the planning scheme are all we need to protect local amenity.”
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