VICTORIA’S manufacturing minister will put pressure on wind farm developers to use locally made towers.
The company behind the south-west’s largest wind farm plan — a 223 turbine project in Penshurst — is still undecided on where it will source its towers from if it secures a permit.
Visiting Portland yesterday, manufacturing minister David Hodgett told Glenelg Shire councillors he would request Penshurst developer RES to look at local options, such as Keppel Prince, before heading overseas.
“I’ll be contacting them and encouraging them to use local manufacturers,” he said.
He said the state would play an “advocacy role” in Keppel Prince’s anti-dumping case against overseas companies.
“I’m happy to take the issues on board and prosecute the case to Canberra,” he said.
Long-serving Glenelg Shire councillor Geoff White said components only available overseas should be off-loaded in Portland rather than Geelong.
“We would be hoping that they be manufactured in Australia, which gives an opportunity to the local manufacturers, but any other components of the wind farm like blades could be imported through the Port of Portland instead of the Port of Geelong,” Cr White said.
Premier Denis Nap-thine said it made “sense to transport them 100 kilometres from Portland to Penshurst rather than 250 kilometres from Geelong”.
“One of the things I’m looking to do is contact RES and urge them to look at local production of towers,” Dr Napthine said. ‘‘We would be looking to the newly elected federal government to put pressure on them.”
The state Coalition Government has come under criticism from green groups for slapping too many planning barriers in front of turbines, including a two-kilometre setback from homes.
Environmentalists have pointed out the measure is stricter than for other industries.
But Dr Napthine said it was up to wind farm companies to improve their popularity by using locally made parts.
“If they want to alienate the community or get the community offside by importing wind towers, that will be the quickest way,” Dr Napthine said yesterday.
“The wind industry needs the support of the community to have a strong, viable future. The best way they can do to encourage community support is to ... use local wind towers, they should use local components wherever possible.”