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Moyne Shire takes cautions to rule out perceptions of director conflict of interest on wind farms  

Credit:  Jackson Graham | The Standard | March 7 2021 | www.standard.net.au ~~

A council director previously involved in decisions to amend state planning permits for two wind farms has taken a cautious approach to be uninvolved in some council decisions.

Moyne Shire economic development and planning director Brett Davis previously held a Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning role and chaired a hearing that sought to amend the Hawkesdale and Ryan Corner wind farm planning permits in 2017.

Victoria's Planning Minister ultimately approved the amendment.

Moyne chief executive Bill Millard said council legal advice recommended Mr Davis leave the room when council decisions on the two projects were "considered live".

"Council obtained legal advice that suggested that while there was not a direct conflict, it was the perception of conflict that essentially meant Mr Davis would leave the room," he said.

Mr Millard or the council's energy projects manger had dealt with any matters related to the projects to date.

A further planning amendment is being sought for both wind farm projects and the council is now seeking clarification whether Mr Davis' conflict still exists.

"The role of Director, Economic Development and Planning is broad and complex and although Mr Davis has declared a conflict on these matters, Council benefits from his high level of knowledge and experience on all other matters," Mr Millard said.

Moyne councillors at their most recent meeting also unanimously approved Mr Davis to be the council's acting CEO during Mr Millard's absence for a month from mid-March.

Councillor Jim Doukas, often outspoken on wind farm issues, said he did not believe Mr Davis had a conflict of interest.

"I think he can separate one from the other," Cr Doukas said. "If he was to remain in the room I wouldn't have an issue. I don't think he's conflicted in any way."

Source:  Jackson Graham | The Standard | March 7 2021 | www.standard.net.au

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