On 2 April 2015, Planning Scheme Amendment VC124 was gazetted to implement the Victorian Government’s new policy on wind energy facilities (WEF). The policy crystalizes the Government’s 2014 election promise to encourage WEF development in Victoria by removing restrictive planning controls.
In 2011, the Liberal Baillieu Government implemented a suite of stringent WEF controls via Planning Scheme Amendment VC82. Critically, Planning Scheme Amendment VC82 implemented a veto power to landowners within 2 kilometres of a proposed WEF. The controls drastically halted development of WEFs; reflected by the fact that only 2 approvals have been granted for WEF development since 2010.
The new controls will result in the following key changes:
- reduction in the allowable distance of a WEF to a household dwelling from 2km to 1km with the landowner’s consent;
- appointing the Minister for Planning as the responsible authority for all planning permit applications for the use and development of a WEF;
- providing a planning permit exemption to enable vegetation to be removed, destroyed or lopped by traditional owners on Crown land in accordance with an authorisation order made under theTraditional Owner Settlement Act 2010; and
- permitting amendments to planning permits for a WEF within the 1km buffer of a dwelling unless:
- the amendment increases the number of turbines; or
- changes the location of a turbine so that it is located closer to an existing dwelling than the closest permitted turbine to that dwelling.
Councils will retain responsibility for enforcement of WEFs for new and existing planning permits.
Amendment VC124 is a clarification of the Government’s recent policy changes to relax the allowable distance of a WEF from a household dwelling, which provides more flexibility for siting of turbines by reducing consultation and the ability for landowners to veto proposals for new and amended WEF proposals.