Originally written by BILL MELDRUM
LARGE tracts of privately-owned land within the Glenelg Shire west of the Henty Hwy and near the South Australian border appear to be the brightest prospects in Victoria for large-scale wind farm development under the current Victorian planning laws.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy conceded on Monday the area was perhaps the only part of the state which wind energy companies could plan to have large-scale projects in the future on a similar scale to the Macarthur wind farm.
“I would say the large tracts of privately-owned land in the far west of Victoria where there are large areas of open farmland and a sparse population is an ideal area for wind farm development,” he said.
“It is an area that can take advantage of the winds blowing across from the south-east of South Australia into that part of Victoria.”
It follows the approval of planning scheme amendment VC82 which prohibits a wind turbine being constructed within two kilometres of an existing dwelling unless there is written consent from the dwelling’s owner.
Shadow planning minister Brian Tee released a map late last week to highlight the recent changes had “effectively closed off most of Victoria for (wind farm) development.
Mr Tee said Premier Ted Baillieu and Mr Guy had created a dense maze of wind farm buffers and bans that had shut down Victoria for future wind farm projects.
He will make an attempt in State Parliament today to revoke the latest planning scheme amendment, but is expected to be unsuccessful because of the government majority in both houses.
Mr Tee’s map shows sections of the Glenelg Shire, the Mallee and parts of eastern Victoria as the only parts of the state not burdened by no go zones and the two kilometre restrictions.
However, Mr Guy denied the two kilometre restriction spelled doom for the wind farm sector in Victoria.
“All it does is make the companies negotiate with property owners if they want turbines on their properties … Tee can’t have it both ways, originally he was saying there was overwhelming support from people for wind farms, especially in the Ararat, Maryborough area, now he is saying property-owners are against the industry and won’t approve turbines on their properties,” he said.
He said many of the no-go zones listed by Mr Tee had been in place when the Labor Party was in government.
“National parks, the Great Ocean Rd … all were out of bounds for wind farms when Labor was in power,” he said.
Mr Guy said the wind farm sector in Victoria also had significant potential for growth from projects already approved but not started.
It is understood the sector has only installed around one-third of turbines approved in the Victoria.
Portland-based wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince Engineering has consistently expressed the view its jobs and growth in Portland is at risk of relocating interstate because of the government’s latest planning scheme amendment.