Mar 04, 2011

Australian government fires first shot in war against wind farms

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 04, 2011 11:02 AM

Friends of the Earth Australia is deeply concerned about changes to planning rules for wind farms which threaten to heavily restrict where they can be located.

wind turbines in australia The changes to the planning law will give local councils a greater role in deciding the location of wind farms, regardless of the size of the project.


"We are happy to support the primary decision making powers going back to councils on the proviso that they can opt out and refer an application to the Minister, and that there are time limits decisions." said Cam Walker, Campaigns Co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth Australia. 


"Without a set time line, a council could chose to sit on a proposal indefinitely and delay to the point the project is no longer viable," he said.


"We remain deeply concerned that the overall intent of the Coalition’s pre-election wind farm policy is to create broadly defined ‘no go’ zones, which would exclude wind farms from areas with some of Victoria’s best wind resources.


"We urge the coalition government to re-consider the most arbitary aspects of their policy: the creation of no go zones and 2 km setbacks of wind farms from houses, which are not based on any available evidence about the impact of wind farms.


Over forty groups, including unions, green groups and churches, who represent over 100, 000 Australians from the the state of Victorian have signed a letter opposing the government’s pre-election policy on the location on wind farms.


"At a time when both the effects of climate change and the economic benefits of the renewable energy industry are well known, the government’s wind policy is very much the wrong direction for Victoria to take," said renewable energy campaigner Ellen Roberts.


"Just this week Victorians have learnt of plans for a dramatic increase in coal exploration in our state.


"There is clearly a double standard at play here. While the government seems intent on placing excessive restrictions on wind energy, local communities are not offered the same protections when it comes to coal exploration and production.


"The only conclusion to be drawn from the amendments is that the Coalition government intends to make it easier to open a coal mine than start a wind farm in the state of Victoria," concluded Ms Roberts.


View the letter of protest signed by over 40 groups on the issue


Photo credit: Friends of the Earth Australia