Senator John Madigan, independent for Victoria, today warned Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews his strident and ideological push to support wind farms could open the state up to massive legal liability claims.
Senator Madigan, who recently chaired an exhaustive Senate inquiry into the wind industry, said he had written to the Premier saying the Victorian planning department had failed regional Victorians.
“Unless current processes and regulatory arrangements are improved, the Premier’s desire to attract wind energy investment to Victoria could leave the state liable to future claims of nuisance by those who would suffer ill-health as a result,” Senator Madigan said.
“Where there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm the law requires the state of Victoria to act prudently to avoid that harm.
“If the state of Victoria fails to do so it would be expected to compensate those impacted by industrial wind turbines. The Andrews Government is confronted with just this type of situation.”
Senator Madigan said the recent Senate wind farm inquiry was one of the most detailed ever undertaken and attracted submissions from dozens of Victorian residents and councils.
“Victorian submitters expressed an overwhelming lack of confidence in the adequacy and application of wind farm noise standards and in the regulatory governance of wind farms more broadly,” Senator Madigan said.
“Victorian councils also reported high levels of concern and low levels of confidence in their ability to handle the administration and enforcement of wind farm planning permits.
“A senior Victorian Department of Planning officer was unable to explain the Victorian Government’s justification for reducing the setback to one kilometre, contrary to National Health and Medical Research Council guidance or how, indeed, the Victorian government arrived at its decision the reduce the setback distance.”
Senator Madigan said he recognised the need for all state governments to pursue policies that created clean energy opportunities.
“But let’s be honest here – renewable energy comes in more forms than just wind. We’ve pulled subsidies from the car industry which employed 40,000 Australians yet we’re continuing to pump money into industrial wind technology which is neither efficient nor economic. You can’t run a factory on a wind turbine.
“I hope a state-based renewable energy target doesn’t mean that Victorian electricity consumers will be hit with a Renewable Energy Target stealth tax twice.”
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