By Rob O'Brien
Planning processes for renewable energy projects will be streamlined with Victorian councils receiving support to administer wind farm permits, the State Government has announced.
The Brumby Government will set timeframes for industry and provide more easily accessible information for communities under reforms to approval processes for renewable energy projects across Victoria.
“If we are to cut Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions we need more renewable energy projects but for these to be successful they need to strike the right balance between meeting community and industry expectations,” Minister for Energy and Resources Peter Batchelor said.
Responding to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee (ENRC) of Parliament Inquiry into Approval Processes for Renewable Energy Projects in Victoria, Mr Batchelor said:.
“This inquiry was an important opportunity to consider if improvements can be made to current arrangements and to also consider any changes required as new renewable sources such as wave and geothermal are explored.”
In the recently released Climate Change White Paper the Government set a target for up to 25 per cent of Victoria’s power to be delivered from renewable sources by 2020.
“The approvals process is pivotal to meet this target and deliver on our Government’s commitment to cut Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020,” he said.
“We know Victoria has significant renewable energy potential and our Government is committed to making Victoria an attractive location for renewable investment while ensuring that proposals are developed responsibly and in partnership with local communities.
Mr Batchelor said that the progress of major wind farm developments, such as AGL’s $1 billion Macarthur wind farm and planning approval for Crowlands and Berrybank wind farms had showed that the system was working well.
Minister for Planning Justin Madden said that the State Government was committed to reviewing the policy and planning guidelines for wind energy facilities as well as establishing target timelines for panel reports and ministerial decisions.
“We are also working with the MAV and local government to develop capacity for administering wind farm permits and ensuring more effective decision making to help meet our renewable energy targets,” he said.
“As part of our commitments under the Green Door for Renewable Energy Jobs for the Future statement announced in April, we have already agreed to case management support for all renewable energy projects that commit to good practice for community consultation.”
The Government’s response to the Inquiry can be found at: www.dpi.vic.gov.au/energy.
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