I have asked the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, to put on hold all wind farm permits in south-west Victoria.
I have done this – not to inhibit the state’s responsibility to support renewable energy – but to enable a comprehensive review of the impacts of wind farms in this region to date.
And there are many wind farms, with many more to come to achieve the state’s Renewable Energy Target of 40 per cent by 2025.
I want to understand the social, economic and environmental impacts of these wind farms. I want to know how they impact health, amenity, landscape and lifestyle.
There are enough wind farms out there now to instruct on that.
But so many more are planned and we are heading into unknown territory.
What we have seen so far are significant taxpayer subsidies going into an industry that promises much more than it delivers into the national energy grid.
At Inverleigh, near Geelong, farmers are right to be anxious about the latest proposal for a 16-turbine wind farm in a farming zone. They’re most worried about the industrialisation of their rural landscape.
However, that project will be dwarfed by another.
WestWind Energy wants to build a 228 turbine wind farm. It will be known as the Golden Plains wind farm and will be the biggest in the southern hemisphere.
On paper, it sounds wonderful – it’s potential extraordinary – it’s feel-good factor deep in the wow-zone.
But we are far from perfect world status here.
The Golden Plains wind farm will sidle up to another four wind farms, creating a six kilometre stretch of turbines – 310 in total – with their associated poles, wires and substations.
We must make sure we get this right. Changing the landscape forever is a very big decision to make.