A Victorian-Based renewable energy organisation has released a scathing report on the current outlook of wind farms within the state, saying that hundreds of jobs and hundred of millions of investment have been curtailed in key electorates across the state because of the government’s wind farm restrictions.
According to Yes2Renewables the previous Baillieu Government introduced some of the world toughest regulations for wind farms and these have since been continued by new premier Denis Napthine – this is despite Victoria having one of the highest greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation in the world.
Laws such as establishing a right of veto for households living within 2kms of proposed wind turbines, creating ‘no-go’ zones in key areas such as the Great Ocean Road, the Yarra Ranges, and the Mornington Peninsulas, approving exclusion zones around 21 Victorian towns and making harder to make changes or extend already approved projects have meant that wind farms are finding it harder and harder to get established and prosper.
Further to these changes to the planning provisions the State Government has made local councils the responsible authority for assessing wind farm projects. Previously, wind farms with a capacity greater than 30MW were referred to the state Department of Planning for approval. According to the report a spokesperson from The University of Melbourne researchers questioned the ability of local council planners to cope with large-scale critical infrastructure projects.
Not only do Local councils now have more of their resources tied up in administration but they also lose out on the rewards through operating wind farms.
The report identifies major stakeholders that will lose out if wind laws continue with the current pattern, puts the loss of jobs at the top of the list with an estimated 490 construction jobs and 64 on-going jobs.
These law changes have amassed to almost $870 million worth of scrapped or delayed projects in the past three years.
Modelling done by Sinclair Knight Merz has estimated that the typical flow-on benefits for a 50MW wind farm construction equate to $1.2 million. Wind farms that have currently been scrapped or stalled due to the Ballieu government’s wind farm restrictions would have provided around $10.5 million to the regional economies of Victoria.
Along with the construction flow-on benefits, communities have missed out on $806,840 worth of investment in individual communities each year as a direct result of the wind planning laws – this equates to $20.1 million over a 20-year period.
Loss of electricity generation through wind sources (up to at least 438 MW) has meant that almost half a million houses will continue to run on coal fired sources – not wind. This has also meant that a possible carbon emission reduction of 1.38 million tonnes each year (equivalent to taking 290,928 cars off the road) has been forgone.
It also stomates that income worth $2.1 million each year ($54.2 million over 25-years) have been lost for farmers as a direct flow-on from the law changes.
The report has suggested that to get Victoria back on track the Government must; support the RET as it stands, re-enact the Victorian RET, re-allocate taxpayer-funded programs for fossil fuels towards establishing more renewable energy and clean technology hubs.