Wind Farm Planning in Local Council’s Hands

Brendan Gullifer
The Courier March 4 2011

Moorabool mayor Pat Griffin yesterday welcomed a state government announcement to put wind farm planning responsibility back in the hands of municipal councils.

“I’d rather fight these things on behalf of our community than having them left to ministerial advisers,” Cr Griffin said yesterday. Cr Griffin said the Shire of Moorabool had the expertise and resources to consider all future wind farm permit applications.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy said the announcement was a first step in restoring “fairness and certainty” to the wind farm planning process. Mr Guy said changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions would also ensure homes within two kilometres of proposed wind turbines were considered in planning applications.

The Minister said he would continue to have responsibility for most of the approved but yet-to-be-built wind farm projects that may require a minor amendment or time extension. Decisions on these would be made in conjunction with councils, he said.

Additional changes include all wind farm planning permits to include a concept plan for associated transmission infrastructure, electricity utility works and access road options.

Noise assessment impact studies will be based on the 2010 New Zealand standard, replacing the previously used 1998 standard, Mr Guy said.

Meanwhile, Moorabool Council has requested Minister Guy call-in the three-turbine Pykes Hill wind farm application.

Council knocked back the application from Future Energy in June, with the matter to appear before the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal in May. Cr Pat Toohey said the council had legitimate concerns in relation to the impact of the development on the community.

Meanwhile, Western Victorian MP Simon Ramsay has announced he will hold a public meeting later this month with wind farm generators, local councils and residents to discuss the new planning environment.

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