The Sustainable Urbanist: Napthine Continues to Kill Victorian Wind Farms

Dennis Napthine has rejected calls from environmental groups to dump former-premier Ted Ballieu’s anti-wind farm laws.

The reaffirmation of the government’s opposition to wind farms will ensure the state continues to lose billions in green investment.

Yes2renwables spokesman Leigh Ewbank says Premier Napthine’s public embrace of anti-wind farm laws passed by the Ballieu government puts him at odds with the community.

“Poll after poll after poll shows Victorians want more wind power,” she said.

The Coalition government last year amended planning laws to implement ‘No Go Zones’ where wind farms could not be built.

Turbines are now prohibited within five kilometers of 21 Victorian regional centers.

Any household has the power to veto wind turbine projects within two kilometers of their homes.

Turbines have also been banned in the McHarg and Macedon ranges, in the Yarra Valley, on the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas, and within five kilometers of the Great Ocean Road and the Bass Coast.

“Premier Napthine’s anti-wind farm stance cuts off a crucial economic lifeline for a state in recession,” Ewbank says.

The Clean Energy Council estimates that the laws will eventually drive $3.6 billion of investment away from Victoria.

Jobs and investment have been lost as wind projects are put on hold or cancelled around the state.

Pacific Hydro, one of the largest wind developers in the state, has said it is committed to building its projects, which have planning approval.

However, “under the new guidelines, Pacific Hydro does not envisage pursuing any new project developments in Victoria”.

Global wind farm developer Windlab has moved staff to its Canberra head office after they announced Victorian planning laws had “gone to far”.

Ewbank calls Dr Napthine’s endorsement of anti-wind farm laws puzzling, as the sector has delivered huge economic and environmental benefits to his own electorate – the seat of South West Coast.

Wind energy has benefited Dr Napthine more than any other politician in the state.

Two-thirds of the state’s wind turbines are located in Napthine’s electorate and more than 60 people are now employed in wind turbine tower manufacturing at Keppel Prince in Portland.

The South West Coast has boomed from the construction of wind farms.

Analysis by Sinclair Knight Mertz estimate the Macarthur and Oaklands projects have pumped $67 million into the local economy, employed around 900 people during construction, and will provide 52 ongoing jobs.

A study by Friends of the Earth found that the Coalition’s anti-wind energy policy has put a stop to industry development in Victoria.

Investment has moved to South Australia where the wind sector has boomed.

Wind generated electricity supplies 26% of the total power to South Australia reaching up to 80% during some peak occasions and has also exported power to Victoria through the grid connect.

“South Australia has been the main beneficiary of VC82, with massive development of the wind sector in recent years. Job opportunities, investment and income for farmers and local Councils have moved west as a result,” says Ewbank.

Environmental and community groups are calling on the premier to reconsider his decision and bring wind energy investment back to the state.

Matt O’Leary

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