Ted Baillieu and his coalition partners swept into power in Victoria nearly two years ago, partly based on a campaign that promoted NIMBYism as a policy platform – at least as it concerned renewables, and particularly wind.
Curiously, many of the seats where that policy was pushed remained staunchly Labor, but once in power Baillieu enthusiastically thrust into law the 2km set-back limit for wind turbines, and several controversial “no go” zones.
The wind farm proponents, however, will not lie down. In Castlemaine, a community project that hopes to erect at least three turbines to serve the local area was swamped with 60 applications from local landowners when it sought expressions of interest to site the installation. It’s given rise to a new term – Turbines Wanted in My Backyard” – or TWIMBY.
It’s not just in Victoria. In NSW, led by another wind-worrying premier Barry O’Farrell, a project in New England has attracted more than 100 applications from landowners to host a community-owned wind farm.
Jarra Hicks, the principal of Community Powe Agency, who has been working with the Mt Alexander Community Wind Project in Castlemaine, says there are around 30 community projects that she is aware of – some in wind, many in solar, and others in biogas.
“The key thing is that we’ve been invited to come and look at this sites,” Jarra says. “It builds the narrative and the reality of community support and involvement in renewable projects. There is a really strong will of people on the ground to make a significant difference, and invest in renewables in a big way that is not possible at a household level.”
And, if the Climate Change Authority’s recommendation that the status quo of the renewable energy target is maintained at the end of the year, that should finally push the green button for many of these projects to proceed.