A MAJOR environment lobby organisation has accused the state government of double standards over its new exclusion zone for housing near wind farms which did not apply to other energy industries.
Friends of the Earth claimed the government was picking winners and losers in siding with dirty fossil fuels ahead of clean and renewable energy sources.
The group pounced on comments reported in The Standard this week by Planning Minister Matthew Guy and Major Projects Minister Denis Napthine in Warrnambool.
They explained that requirements for wind farm proponents to reach an agreement with householders living within two kilometres of a turbine tower did not apply to other energy industries, including a proposed gas-fired power station near Tarrone.
Property owners near the site have sent a 21-signature petition to Parliament calling for a two-kilometre buffer zone around the $500 million station to protect them from noise and pollution.
Mr Guy said he had not seen the project application from AGL and could not comment on specifics.
His office yesterday reiterated the policy with a statement to The Standard: “The two kilometre negotiation rule set up for wind farm applications has little to do with gas-fired power plants.
“The Coalition enacted this policy because of the many wind farm proposals across the state.”
Dr Napthine said if a buffer zone was enforced for a project it would not necessarily be contained on the proponent’s property.
The comments fired up Friends of the Earth campaign co-ordinator Cam Walker who said the government was making wind energy developments harder.
“A forward-thinking government would be encouraging renewable energy development,” he said.
“Sadly the opposite is happening, with an unfair playing field being established.
“Why is the government giving one part of the community rights of veto over energy developments and denying them to another?”
He said residents near the Tarrone site were worried about noise and pollution, while down at Anglesea there were about 2000 people living within two kilometres of a planned massive expansion of Alcoa’s coal mine.
Meanwhile, the fate of a planning application by AGL for its Tarrone district proposal is still with the state planning department.