Victoria’s winds of change

By Lachlan Colquhoun

The Baillieu Government in Victoria has introduced regulations saying it will “restore certainty and fairness to local communities” on the issue of with farm planning.

On the surface, the new regulations look little different from neighbouring windfriendly South Australia. The wind industry and the renewable energy lobby claim the Victorian changes put at risk up to $3 billion worth of projects and threaten the viability of the industry in that state.

At least three proposed developments have been thrown into doubt in recent months, with the Moyne Shire Council blocking permit extensions – granted under the previous regulatory regime – for two projects proposed by Spanish company Union Fenosa.

These permits have been referred back to State Minister Matthew Guy. Another Spanish company, Acciona Energy, has dropped plans for a 40 turbine project near Evansford, north-west of Melbourne.

A Clean Energy Council survey last year found the new policy could stop up to 70 per cent of currently proposed wind farms. CEC chief executive Matthew Warren says the policy signaled that the wind industry in Victoria was “closed for business”.

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