Friday, 14 June 2013

South-west Victorian coalition lobby Napthine on wind power
30 Apr 2013

A coalition of interest groups from south-west Victoria, including the manufacturer Keppel Prince and labour unions, have joined with environmental groups to lobby their local member and Victorian Premier Denis Napthine to loosen restrictions on wind farm development.

They argue that these planning rules, which give households within 2km of a proposed wind turbine the right to veto the development, are costing jobs and investment. According to the coalition the government's planning guidelines are expected to cost Victoria $887 million in investment, 650 construction jobs and 54 ongoing jobs in operations and maintenance.

The group has put a personal face to these statistics by enlisting the support of 20 local welders, boiler makers, engineers and labourers employed or recently retrenched from the wind industry.

It is understood that Premier Napthine is more supportive of wind power than his predecessor Ted Baillieu, who introduced the 2km veto planning amendment. At the recent launch of a large wind farm in his electorate, Napthine stated that he felt wind farms were "absolutely fantastic". But he also added that they were not appropriate to all locations and did not intend to change current planning guidelines.

Nonetheless this more favourable attitude towards wind farms has given hope to pro-wind farm groups that there might be greater willingness to revise the restrictions introduced by Baillieu.

According to Andrew Bray, the state coordinator of the Victorian Wind Alliance and a member of the coalition, "Two thirds of the wind turbines now operating in Victoria are located in Premier Napthine's electorate. The Premier knows first-hand how wind power benefits the community".