Victoria might boast some of the most restrictive wind farm development laws in the country, but that hasn’t stopped the state’s energy minister, Russell Northe, from seeking to distance himself from federal treasurer Joe Hockey and his latest anti-wind energy rant.
Hockey, who in May described the sight of wind turbines in Canberra as “utterly offensive”, this week reiterated his view that wind farms are a blight on the Australian landscape.
“I drive from Sydney to Canberra …. to go to parliament, and I just look at those wind turbines around Lake George and I am just appalled,” Hockey said, when prompted on the subject at a Bloomberg summit in Sydney on Tuesday.
But Northe, who is the National Party Member for Morwell in Victoria, on Wednesday told ABC News that the Treasurer’s comments were “not that helpful to those who are seeking to invest in renewables,” adding that Joe Hockey’s opinion was “not a view that’s held by the Victorian (Coalition) Government.”
But the disparity between Northe’s view on renewables, and his government’s record of hostility towards wind farm development, has not gone unnoticed.
“While it’s good to see Victorian energy minister Russell Northe distancing himself from Treasurer Joe Hockey’s fringe views, we must remember the wind energy sector is at a stand still due to his government’s anti-wind farm laws,” said Friends of the Earth renewables spokesperson Leigh Ewbank.
“Victoria is the only jurisdiction in Australia that has wind farm bans in place. The state currently has the world’s worst restrictions on wind farms.”
Research published by Friends of the Earth found the anti-wind farm laws introduced by former Premier Ted Baillieu have cost Victoria 490 construction jobs and 64 ongoing jobs; $10.5 million of rural economic activity; projects worth over $864 million; and 438MW of wind energy generation capacity.
“The current planning laws mean that it’s ok for Daylesford to have a community run wind farm, but yet, just 40km away in Woodend, a project of similar scale is prohibited,” said Ewbank.