Australian news, and some related international items

Baillieu governs in the interests of the fossil fuel lobby, damaging the wind farm industry

 Victorian wind farm laws: a blow to Australia’s clean energy future? , The Conversation, Lisa Caripis Research assistant, Centre for Resources Energy and Environmental Law at University of Melbourne Anne Kallies PhD Scholar at University of Melbourne 4 September 2012,

It’s been just over one year since the Baillieu government introduced the second part of its far-reaching planning law reforms to restrict the development of wind farms in Victoria. The results are an example of how state planning law can be a barrier to achieving national renewable energy goals.

With a majority in both houses of Parliament, the Coalition was able to amend Victoria’s planning framework unhindered to deliver on its 2010 election promise  to “restore fairness and certainty to the planning process for wind farms”.

In pursuit of this aim, the planning amendments most notably impose a blanket ban on wind farms in many parts of the state. They effectively give the owners of any dwelling within 2km of a proposed wind farm the power to decide whether or not the development should proceed. A July 2012 amendment clarifies that these changes are targeted at wind farms generating electricity for supply to the grid, not for on-site use.

Economically, reports  indicate that the impacts of these changes in terms of lost or stalled wind farm investment and employment have been considerable, in a state that has some of Australia’s best wind resources. While promising to “give the community a greater voice” through these changes, the amendments instead render local, pro-wind initiatives, such as community wind farm projects impossible in many locations .

Not only do the planning law changes have the potential to entrench existing fossil fuel power generation in Victoria, they undermine the Victorian Government’s commitment to the federalRenewable Energy Target  (RET).

The RET is designed to ensure that 41,000 GWh – close to 20% – of our electricity comes from large-scale renewable energy by 2020. It implicitly relies on implementation through state and territory planning frameworks, because decisions about what kind of development can take place and where rest with the states. The Climate Change Authority , which reviews the RET, notes

State and territory planning regulations may affect the level of renewable energy generation, its mix, and the geographic distribution of renewable power stations.

This can cause problems when state laws are out of step with national targets, as the electricity market rule-maker pointed out last year . It is of some concern that New South Wales draft guidelines  also adopt the 2km consent rule and impose a noise assessment regime stricter than in any other jurisdiction in Australia, the United States or Europe…..

September 4, 2012 - Posted by | politics, Victoria, wind

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