Developers avoid new permitting rules

AUSTRALIA: In the 12 months since the state of Victoria introduced a minimum distance of two kilometres between homes and wind farms, the permitting rules remain untested, as developers have been reluctant to pursue new projects.

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Just one new wind project has been proposed in that state: Cherry Tree, which is a boutique project to the north of Melbourne, and is in the early stages of permitting.

With more than 1GW of already-permitted projects in Victoria delayed due to financial or technical reasons, developers say they are now focused on delivering those projects before their planning permits expire, to avoid the risk of interacting with the new permitting policy.

"It's almost like a case of lose it or use it mentality in Victoria," said executive manager, government and corporate affairs with Pacific Hydro Andrew Richards, who added that his company is not looking at any greenfield sites in Victoria.

"We're working hard to try and deliver the portfolio that we have, and sitting back and seeing what happens with the permitting rules in Victoria to see if they'll have a material effect in the medium to long term. We're not keen to be the first to test (the permitting rules)."

The New South Wales state government has yet to release its proposed permitting framework, which would introduce a minimum setback distance. In South Australia the opposition government has suggested it would introduce similar policies if elected.

1GW - Of projects with permits in the state of Victoria are on hold due to financial or technical hitches

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