Premier Denis Napthine is facing pressure to relax laws governing Victoria’s wind farms in a bid to save jobs at embattled Portland turbine maker Keppel Prince.
Both sides of the wind energy debate have come out in the past week pressing the new state leader, who has more turbines in his south-west electorate than any other part of the country.
Environmentalists have called on Dr Napthine to dump no-go zones along the Great Ocean Road and mandatory setbacks for the turbines near homes and rural properties.
Speaking to ABC radio yesterday afternoon, Dr Napthine ruled out making any changes.
Opposition energy spokeswoman Lily D’Ambrosio told The Standard the Premier needed to axe tough laws introduced by Ted Baillieu last year.
“We have planning laws that are stifling investment and jobs,” she said.
Ms D’Ambrosio said Keppel Prince was bearing the brunt of fewer wind farm approvals since the laws came in last February.
But Ms D’Ambrosio was unable to poRint to specific parts of the laws Labor was opposed to.
“For me to answer that would be for us to announce a policy and we will do that closer towards the next election,” she said.
Keppel Prince director Steve Garner said overseas imports remained the company’s number one threat.
“If the planning laws eased I’m sure that would open up more wind farm business — but with a second swipe I wouldn’t support it if it opened up more importing,” he said.
Environmentalist have been upfront in demands to scrap the two-kilometre setback zones around homes. “The whole industry is in shutdown,” Friends of the Earth spokesman Leigh Ewbank said.
Meanwhile, two parliamentarians have traded barbs over the Macarthur wind farm in State Parliament.
Upper house member Simon Ramsay last week voiced his support for Annie and Gus Gardiner, who have issues with the neighbouring 140-turbine wind farm.
Greens MP Greg Barber accused Mr Ramsay of whipping up fear.
“There is no wind turbine syndrome, only Simon Ramsay syndrome,” Mr Barber said.