Outgoing Moyne Shire Council chief executive Bill Millard has issued a parting warning to council over the "fraught" issue of wind power in the shire.
Speaking to The Standard, Mr Millard said wind energy was "clearly the biggest issue in Moyne" and it wasn't going away.
He said the council's current opposition to new wind farms was complicating matters.
"The whole shebang around wind farm development is complex and some of it is fraught, because it's going to happen. It's hard because our current position politically is probably one that council will have to modify going forward," he said.
In late 2018 councillors voted on a resolution for no new wind farms to be built in the shire unless the Victorian government adopted a number of recommendations from the national wind farm commissioner.
The state government was never likely to adopt the recommendations, so the council's position has remained opposed to new wind farm development.
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The issue raised its head in February when council was alleged to have approached the Clean Energy Council for help promoting wind energy in the shire, which appeared to conflict with its public stance.
At the time, Mr Millard stopped short of denying that council had contacted the CEC with concerns about local wind power perceptions, simply saying council hadn't requested the meeting.
There is strong evidence to suggest council is concerned about local negativity about wind farms and Mr Millard said council would have to confront the issue head on.
"At some stage the councillors are going to have to recognise that these things are happening so how are we going to get the best net community benefit out of it," he said.
Mr Millard said council was "between a rock and a hard place" on the issue.
"I think council and council officers are unfairly targeted on that because we're not at the table when the assessment is made and the permit is granted," he said.
While council has no decision-making power over wind farm permits, it is left to manage community discontent when it arises.
Mr Millard said he had worked to make council more responsive to local concerns, setting up a dedicated team to audit wind farm compliance, engage with the community and push the planning minister to hear council's concerns about specific projects.
He said the siting of wind farms made a huge difference to locals. "If they're in the right place then there's moderate angst, not full on warfare."
One major problem, he said, was the lack of an overarching strategy from the state government.
"There's a plan for renewable energy targets, but there's not a plan for the infrastructure. Without that plan it's hard to get an idea of the net benefit, and in my view the net benefit should flow through to every Moyne rate payer," Mr Millard said.
"To me, that would be fair."
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