The Victorian government has announced changes to the state’s planning rules to smooth the way for booming large-scale solar and wind energy development, at it works its way to a target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030.
Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said on Tuesday that the changes to state planning rules would require planning permits to build power lines to connect new large-scale electricity generators to the grid.
For prospective wind and solar farms where new power lines are required, this will mean going through a “thorough and transparent planning assessment process” that will also ensure community views are heard and potential impacts mitigated.
The minister said that the rule changes addressed the fact that – until now – developers could build new power lines without a permit if they operated at less than 220,000 volts; and concerns that that power line development was not being properly regulated.
The new rules will only apply to new planning permit applications for electricity generators, however, and will not be applied retrospectively to existing planning permits.
As the Andrews Labor government noted in November last year, when it boosted the VRET to 50 per cent by 2030, the state has added 732MW of new renewables capacity over the last four years, and has several thousand megawatts more under construction or contracted to be built.
“There has been considerable growth in renewable energy across Victoria so we’re making sure the planning processes are in place to ensure new developments are safe, well thought out and respect the needs of nearby communities,” said Wynne in comments on Tuesday.
“This change will ensure that developers take into account visual aspects and traffic safety issues, while also ensuring the public have the chance to make submissions as part of the permit application process.”
Energy and climate minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the move was necessary to support the massive renewable energy boom in Victoria, which would see the state’s energy network transitioned away from from coal in the coming years.
“By putting the planning mechanisms in place now we can make sure our new solar and wind farms have the right infrastructure in place before they start their important job of feeding power back into Victoria’s energy grid,” she said.