Last week the Victorian Government indicated it would review the Victorian Climate Change Act if a national carbon price was introduced, including the target of cutting emissions to 20 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
Now wind farm opponents have been handed victory on a plate. The Government’s new policy has three main elements:
the government will amend planning laws to give households power to veto wind turbines within two kilometres of their homes.
Turbines will also be banned in the Macedon and McHarg ranges, in the Yarra Valley, on the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas, and within five kilometres of the Great Ocean Road and the Bass Coast.
And in changes that go further than the Coalition flagged in the policy it took to last year’s state election, turbines will also be prohibited within five kilometres of 21 Victorian regional centres.
Wind farms approved by Labor and not yet built will not be affected.
The Government claims that 92% of the state is still available for wind farm development, but the people who build them have a different view. Pacific Hydro say that they will be pursuing opportunities elsewhere after completing current projects. The Clean Energy Council estimated prior to the election that $3.6 billion worth of investments would not go ahead under the Coalition’s policy.
Make that up to $10 billion according to Giles Parkinson at Climate Spectator. Earlier Parkinson had written about the negativity coming from right-wing governments on climate change policy. Barry O’Farrell is on record saying he doesn’t want any more wind farms built. The wind doesn’t blow so consistently in Queensland, so theoretically there should be opportunities in South Australia. But:
South Australia is nearing its capacity for wind farms, unless money can be found to unlock the massive resources on the Eyre Peninsula. This would need more grid infrastructure as well as a bigger interconnector to Victoria to distribute the surplus energy.
Also this has been fiercely resisted by the big coal generators because “it will lower wholesale energy prices and cause their profits to diminish.”
Parkinson sees major potential implications for the federal government’s 20 per cent renewable energy target. Indeed:
Little has been constructed in recent years because the RET has failed to provide the price signal intended, and utilities have felt under no obligation to offer power purchase agreements needed to finance the projects.
Mathew Warren, CEO of the Clean Energy Council, told Bush Telegraph that wind farms are always viewed favourably when they do surveys in rural areas. But the opposition, always from a minority, is quite rabid (my term). Many of the anti-wind groups’ compliants have been dismissed in a recent Senate inquiry.
Parkinson ends on a pessimistic note:
To some, it is yet another dark chapter in the story of renewables development in a country that continues to have the best resources and R&D in the world, but one of the lowest levels of deployment, thanks to policies which have either been poorly conceived or dropped once they prove too successful. As one industry insider muttered darkly on Monday: “It’s like they take the wheels off your car, and take out the engine. And then they stand back and say ‘look, it doesn’t work’.”
Elsewhere The Age reports that the Feds will look elsewhere with a lucrative deal to host the Commonwealth’s $10 billion Clean Energy Fund because of the Baillieu government’s negativity. Ditto with locating the Climate Change Authority.