Friends of the Earth welcomes the Victorian Govt’s ‘long overdue’ adjustment package for wind energy sector

August 30, 2012

PLEASE NOTE: There is NO package. The purpose of this release is to highlight the fact that people working in, and reliant on, the wind industry have been negatively impacted by the state government, without any government support being offered.

MEDIA RELEASE

Friends of the Earth welcomes the Victorian Govt’s ‘long overdue’ adjustment package for wind energy sector

Friends of the Earth welcome the Victorian government’s newly announced $552 million wind energy sector adjustment package (1), including a multi-million dollar compensation fund for affected companies and workers.

“The Baillieu government effectively stopped the further development of Victoria’s wind industry when it ended sensible planning guidelines for wind energy projects a year ago,” said Cam Walker from Friends of the Earth. “The announcement of a wind energy sector adjustment package is a long overdue but welcome development for those affected by the government’s anti-wind energy laws.”

“It is standard practise for a government to provide support for the restructure phase after a major intervention in a sector. For instance when the previous government ended native forest logging in the Otway Ranges, it set up the Industry Transition Taskforce (ITT), which was intended to help timber industries and communities adapt, and contributed $2.7 million for an industry transition package for timber workers in the Otways,” said Cam Walker.

“Until now, workers and businesses in the wind energy sector have simply been abandoned by the Baillieu government.”

The VC82 amendment—which includes the creation of arbitrary ‘no-go zones’—has resulted in the collapse of the wind energy project pipeline in the state. Just one new project application has been lodged with the Department of Planning in the last twelve months.

“Victoria now has the toughest wind energy planning guidelines in the world. The anti-wind energy laws have already cost Victoria thousands of jobs and millions worth of investment in the renewable energy economy and must be repealed,” said Cam Walker.

“Stalling the rollout of renewable energy deprives Australia of a crucial tool for addressing the climate crisis. It makes Victoria a drag on the rest of Australia.”

Other states are taking advantage of Victoria’s onerous wind-energy planning laws. South Australia is cementing its leadership position on renewable energy. Wind energy projects pumped  $5 billion into the South Australian economy last financial year and created over 2,000 jobs.(2)

“The government can once again make Victoria ‘the place to be’ for wind energy. Premier Ted Baillieu and Planning Minister Matthew Guy can create jobs and income for farmers, attract investment, and deliver carbon-free energy and cheaper electricity for Victorians,” Cam Walker said. “All they have to do is repeal VC82 and return to a science-based policy for determining how and where turbines can be located.”

“The government should immediately exempt community-owned and initiated wind-farm projects from the planning restrictions. Quashing small-scale community projects is unjustifiable.”

Media Contact: Cam Walker, FoE Campaigns Coordinator – 0419 338 047

1 While the attached 'media release' is not an actual government document, it underscores the fact that the government of Ted Baillieu has intervened in an industry, at great cost to the workers and businesses involved, without providing re training or other support.

2 The Herald Weekly Times, ‘SA windfall after Vic turbine change’, 25 July, 2012  http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2012/07/25/514361_business-news...

Additional Information:

According to Friends of the Earth analysis, the collapse of Victoria’s wind farm project pipeline has cost Victoria up to:

·    $887 million in lost or stalled investment
·    650 direct jobs lost or stalled in construction
·    54 on-going jobs in management of wind farms
·    1408 indirectly associated (flow-on) jobs
·    Projects totalling up to 204 turbines and 408MW of generating capacity. This would have saved up to 1.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year—the equivalent to taking around 465,000 passenger cars off the road each and every year.

Source: Friends of the Earth (2012), What is the real cost of Ted Baillieu’s Wind Energy Policy, available here.