Thursday, 6 June 2013

Wind farm permit outrage
22 Apr 2013

MOYNE mayor Jim Doukas says the state government is passing the buck by making local councils enforce permit conditions on some wind farms. Cr Doukas said new state legislation requiring local government to be responsible for enforcing wind farm permit conditions could impose high costs on councils.

Under legislation passed in the upper house of State Parliament on Thursday, councils will be responsible for enforcing conditions such as noise levels on eight wind farm projects unless the permit conditions says the state planning minister is responsible. The eight wind farm projects covered by the legislation include the planned Woolsthorpe and Mortlake south wind farms.

Moyne Shire last month lobbied the state government strongly objecting to the legislation, saying the planning minister should be responsible for enforcement of the permits. Cr Doukas said the new legislation would make the enforcement of the permit conditions very "messy" with some conditions likely to be enforced by the state and some by local government.

In speaking in support of the bill on Thursday night, Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay said he was aware that some councils were "not overjoyed at the prospect of taking on responsibility of the enforcement and compliance of wind farm permits that were issued under the previous government".

This was because there was little due diligence in the conditions that were applied to the permits for those applicants. "I believe support should be provided to those councils that must now take on this responsibility, given their previous lack of involvement with the issue", Mr Ramsay said.

He said it followed through on the government's pre-election commitment to give local councils a greater say in the issuing of wind farm permits and for enforcing compliance with their permit conditions. "At the end of the day, that is democracy at a grass root level working effectively", Mr Ramsay said.

Friends of the Earth campaigns director Cam Walker said the organisation believed the approval and enforcement of wind farm permits should be handled by the state government rather than local government to avoid councils being cajoled by "noisy" anti-wind farm minorities.

Mr Walker said that having the state responsible for the enforcement of the wind farm permits would allow wider community concerns to be heard rather than only those who protested loudly.