Premier under pressure to dump costly wind farm laws

GREEN groups are stepping up pressure on Premier Denis Napthine to dump state wind farm laws they claim have cost Victoria more than $10 million and nearly 550 jobs. 

Friends of the Earth (FoE) have released a new report this week showing that planning laws restricting wind farms within two kilometres of homes have cost 490 construction and 64 ongoing jobs in regional Victoria, including the south-west. 

But Dr Napthine hit back, claiming any slow-down in turbine production was minimal and only influenced by underlying economic factors rather than state regulations.

FoE renewable energy spokesman Leigh Ewbank said the laws had cost regional areas $10.5 million in lost economic activity. 

The report has also found; 

- projects worth more than $864 million in the past three years have been lost or scrapped because of the laws;

- 438 megawatts of wind energy generation capacity has been scrapped or stalled;

- farmers and landholders have lost up to $2.1m worth of drought-proof income each year ($54.2 million over a 25 year period); and

- wind energy could have powered half-a-million homes. 

The report also says the laws cost at least 50 jobs at Portland tower manufacturer Keppel Prince through stalled projects. 

“Premier Napthine has benefited more from wind energy than any other state MP. By showing leadership and scrapping the anti-wind laws, he can unleash investment and create jobs throughout Victoria,” Mr Ewbank said. 

Under the laws introduced by the state government, landowners can veto wind turbines if they are within two kilometres of their home. 

Dr Napthine said Victoria’s renewable energy sector was in robust health, with state regulations providing piece-of-mind for landholders.

“(The Friends of the Earth report) is complete and utter nonsense,” the Premier said.

“If there’s any problems when it comes to development in the sector, it’s due to underlying economic issues rather than any particular planning regulations.”

FoE also wants the government to revoke arbitrary no go zones around regional towns and to extend permits of proposed wind farms that have been lingering. 

It is also calling on the planning minister to be reinstated as the responsible authority for projects over 30 megawatts.

The opposition has already promised to dump the setback laws if they win power.

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