Victoria to be open for business again with wind farm changes

Changes by the Victorian Government to make the state more attractive for building wind farms will help to unlock billions of dollars in investment – as long as a bipartisan deal can be reached on the national Renewable Energy Target (RET) – the renewable energy industry’s peak body said today.

Clean Energy Council Policy Director Russell Marsh said under restrictive rules introduced by the previous government, a coal mine could be built closer to homes in the state than a wind turbine.

“It is important to get the balance right between attracting renewable energy investment to Victoria and ensuring that the voice of communities is heard when building a wind farm,” Mr Marsh said.

“But the restrictions introduced by the previous government simply drove wind farm companies to other states and robbed Victoria of investment and job opportunities in regional communities. New wind farm applications virtually dried up after these new measures were introduced.

“It is fantastic to see the Andrews Government recognising the need for change, and acting to address some of the most draconian parts of the former government’s legislation. This is clearly a step in the right direction,” he said.

Under the changes, the 2 km setback distance between houses and wind turbines will be reduced to 1 km. The Planning Minister will make decisions on wind farm applications, and local councils will be responsible for regulating new and existing wind farms.

Mr Marsh said the ongoing review of the national RET by the Federal Government had led to an 88 per cent reduction in investment in large renewable projects such as wind farms across the country last year.

“The RET remains the industry’s highest priority and we need to secure bipartisan support for a strong RET to return investment and stability to the renewable energy industry,” he said.

“Once that happens, our industry looks forward to working with the Victorian Government to build renewable energy infrastructure and pass the many benefits of that onto rural and regional parts of the state.

“As well as providing direct employment, wind farms provide flow-on benefits to local contractors, suppliers, shops, restaurants, accommodation providers and much more while wind farms are being constructed.”

Source: http://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/media-centre/media-releases/march-2015/Vic-wind.html#sthash.oaNfInml.dpuf

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