Lal Lal Group Challenges Wind Farm Laws in Court

STAR WEEKLY– Melton and Moorabool
April 19, 2016

Sumeyya Ilanbey

A Lal Lal community group is taking the state government to the Supreme Court following a decision by the planning minister that could strip people’s rights to object to changes to wind farms close to their homes.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne earlier this year approved an amendment to the state planning scheme that allows the minister to “fast-track” amendments for wind farms when there is no increase in the number of turbines or a new turbine is not proposed closer to existing dwellings.

In an explanatory report, the minister concedes the effects of this amendment will mean “a person potentially affected by the amendment will not be notified of the amendment or have an opportunity to make a submission about it”.

“I haven’t met anyone who’s been in this situation who are anti-renewable.”

The Lal Lal Environment Protection Association filed a writ in the Supreme Court last month.

Association president John McMahon said the group had written to Mr Wynne asking for clarification about the amendment but got no response.

Last week he said he was unable to comment further on the matter because it was before the court.

Angela Kearns, a Mt Egerton resident who lives “very close” to planned Moorabool wind-farm turbines, said she was concerned residents and businesses affected by future decisions would not have their voices or objections heard.

“This is basically giving the minister powers to allow for changes without going to a panel hearing,” Ms Kearns said. “We might not even be given an avenue for appeal.”

Ms Kearns, who is not a member of the association, said she wasn’t anti-renewable energy or pro-coal, but she was concerned about wind farms close to people’s homes.

“I have a bit of a mantra – too many turbines too close to too many homes,” she said.

“I haven’t met anyone who’s been in this situation [objecting to wind farms close to homes] who are anti-renewable.

“We just want a fair go as Australians and [to] be listened to.”

The state government was contacted for comment.

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