Australia: What is on the horizon for planning, environment and climate change in Victoria?

Last Updated: 7 December 2010
Article by Elisa de Wit


In the wake of the Labor party conceding defeat, the new Liberal National Government (Government) will begin to introduce its election policies. There are three key policy plans in the environmental space:

  • Planning
  • Water
  • Energy and Resources

This legal update provides a summary of the key aspects of each of these plans.

In general terms, the Government's policies for Planning include commitments to reducing delays, improving affordability, increased transparency, and (the ever-desirable but inevitably conflicting) certainty and flexibility. There is also a major focus on decisions being made at local level.

The Government's policies on Water and Energy and Resources, while stated in very broad terms, are underpinned by a new focus on the recycling of water and the development of renewable energy technology and projects to 're-balance' the Victorian electricity portfolio. 'Re-balance' appears to be the Government's way of saying that Victoria will continue to use coal-fired power but is seeking a gradual transition to renewable energy. The commitment to renewable energy has to be viewed in light of the Government's wind farm policy, which if implemented will greatly reduce the number of potential wind farm locations within Victoria.


There are proposed to be a number of new institutions developed to replace those put in place under Labor. Some existing institutions will also have their powers or functions altered.

New Institutions

In Out Key points
 Planning Referral Authorities (PRA) Development Assessment Committees Greater focus on assisting Councils
Councils decide whether PRA established
 Urban Renewal Authority   Identify areas for urban (residential) renewal and manage transition
 Housing Affordability Unit   Within Department of Planning and Community Developments Focus on affordability
 Urban Planning Unit Growth Areas Authority
Development Facilitation Unit
Manage population growth
Improve operational and regulatory processes
Identify areas of delay
All metropolitan areas (not just growth areas)
Central planning body for City of Melbourne     Responsible authority for all developments within the City of Melbourne that exceed 25,000 square metres

 Changed Institutions

Institution Key change
 Catchment Management Authorities Powers to be reduced 
VCAT  Following establishment of "a new metropolitan planning scheme" (see below), jurisdiction is to be limited where a project is deemed to comply substantially with the relevant Municipal Strategic Statement 

Changes to the Victorian Planning Provisions

A new outcomes-based metropolitan planning strategy for Melbourne will be developed to replace Melbourne 2030. It is not clear how this will be implemented, but there are references elsewhere in the Plan for Planning to "a new metropolitan planning scheme for Melbourne".

Localised Statements of Planning Policy will be established for key areas around Victoria, including the Mornington Peninsula, the Yarra Valley, the Macedon Ranges and the Bellarine Peninsula.

The Government will give consideration to amending the Farm Zone to allow greater flexibility in the application of the 40-hectare minimum lot size and to the Green Wedge Zone to allow an increased range of uses on smaller lot sizes.

There will be increased fire prevention-related native vegetation clearance exemptions.

Growth Areas Infrastructure Charge (GAIC)

The full amount of the GAIC will be payable at the time of Statement of Compliance.

The GAIC will not apply to land zoned commercial or industrial or to land currently owned by non-government schools.

Land Supply in the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB)

A biennial review of the UGB in growth areas will be undertaken, with greater transparency.

The Government will seek to have 20-25 years land supply in growth areas around Melbourne and regional cities, such as Geelong.

Wind Farms

No turbines will be allowed within 2km of a home except with the agreement of the homeowner.

Local government will be reinstated as the decision maker on wind farm applications.

Compensation will be provided to homes located within 1km of a turbine.

There will be extensive 'no-go' zones along the coast, in the ranges and in and near national and state parks, designated tourist areas and designated regional population growth corridors.

Coastal Development

Continuation of detailed coastal mapping is supported. Coastal development is to be allowed "at owner's risk" vis-ŕ-vis climate change. It is unclear what this means, but a more permissive stance on coastal development seems likely.


Activity centres are to have their boundaries fully defined within three years, 'population strategies' considering service and infrastructure requirements are to be prepared, and support for high density development along public transport corridors is to be reduced.

There will be tougher planning controls for packaged liquor outlets.

Amendments will be made to the heritage protection processes, including requiring all Councils to complete a Municipal Heritage Strategy for their municipality.

Metropolitan Liveability Audits will be undertaken in relation to population growth possibility, transport, bikeways, utilities infrastructure, climate constraints and community services.

A population strategy will be developed for all of Victoria and investigation will be undertaken of non-Melbourne growth corridors.

There will be Increased disclosure around ministerial interventions both before (prior notification to Councils) and after (enhanced reporting to Parliament) the fact.

There will be a focus on interface and peri-urban councils and planning, including a new Urban Interface Zone.


The Government's water policy places a high emphasis on water recycling to reduce the demand on drinking water. In order to promote the use of recycled water and the value of water conservation, the Government will establish a market for recycled water and will set a water substitution target.

The Government has also made clear its opposition to the costs associated with the Wonthaggi desalination plant and has questioned the necessity and effectiveness of the North-South Pipeline.

Water recycling

Sewer mining has been identified by the Government as a solution for the watering of sports grounds parks and golf courses

The Government will seek to supply recycled water, through a third pipeline, to new residential estates located close to waste water treatment plants.

Major Government projects will adopt guidelines ensuring that roof areas will be used to collect and reuse rain water.

To promote the use of recycled water, the Government will seek to secure and stimulate a market for recycled water.

Establishing a water substitution target

A water substitution target will be established for the years 2015, 2020 and 2030.

An initial substitution target of 110 billion litres of water by 2015 and interim substitution target of 144 billion litres of water by 2020 will also be set.

By 2030, the Government target will be to have 200 billion litres of water substituted with water drawn from rain water, treated stormwater or recycled water. This equates to 36 per cent of Melbourne's projected water demand.

North-South Pipeline and Food Bowl Modernisation

Melbourne's use of the North-South pipeline will be phased out. The Government will, however, use it for "critical human needs", provided that there is sufficient water in the Goulburn system.

To determine the viability of the North-South Pipeline and the Food Bowl Modernisation Project, the Coalition will hold an independent judicial inquiry into the social, economic and environmental impacts that they are having on communities throughout Victoria.

Energy & Resources

The Government's energy and resources policy appears to be a safe response to the issue of climate change, focusing on energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy technology and projects.

Despite this focus on renewable energy projects, the Government appears to have increased the restrictions placed on wind farms (as outlined above). Rather, the Government identifies technology advances in clean coal, fuel cell energy, solar energy, co-generation and tri-generation as major contributors in 'rebalancing' the state's electricity portfolio.

The Government has also indicated that it will commission a review of the various regulatory barriers to the development of low emission generation.

Feed-in Tariffs

The Government will continue to support feed-in tariffs. They believe, that a gross feed-in tariff scheme will better promote the use of solar and other renewable forms of energy as opposed to the current 'premium' based feed in scheme. The current scheme will remain in place until an inquiry and report by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission into the design and implementation of a market-based gross feed-in tariff scheme has been completed.

Cleaner Coal

The Government acknowledges that Victoria is still reliant on brown coal and the coal-fired generation of electricity and is careful in describing any transition from coal-fired power to renewable energy.

In its attempt to 'rebalance' the use of coal-fired stations with other lower emissions sources, the Government will promote research and development in technology to reduce emissions from coal-fired generation and encourage the development of carbon capture and storage.

The Government believe that this technology will enable Victoria's brown coal assets to continue to be used in a more environmentally friendly and responsible way.

Clean technology identified by the Government to achieve this rebalancing include the:

  • Retrofitting of existing coal-fired generators
  • Further development of the CCS hub and geosequestration
  • Introduction of restrictions on new approvals for coal-fired power stations exceeding .08 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt hour, and
  • Continued promotion of the $30million CarbonNet Project.

Similarly, the Government will continue to make grants available for energy projects, such as fuel cell technology, which seek to reduce emissions or increase energy efficiency.

Renewable and Low Emissions Energy Projects

The use of renewable energy will also be used by the Government to rebalance Victoria's electricity portfolio. Funding for grants for pilot renewable energy plants and technology projects will, therefore, be increased from $42 million to $82 million. Subject to Federal Government funding, the Coalition will also:

  • Provide $100 million to the TRUenergy Large Scale Solar Power station near Mildura; and
  • Provide the remaining $50 million to Silex for their solar energy plant and advocate for an additional grant from the Commonwealth's Solar Flagship program.

Based on pilot programs in Britain and Sydney, the development and installation of co-generation and tri-generation plants will be trialled in Victoria. In doing so, the Government will seek to extend the eligibility for pilot program grants and attempt to address the regulatory barriers that inhibit the use of this technology.

The Government has also set the target of obtaining 5 per cent of Victoria's power from solar energy by 2020. The same target was part of Labor's Climate Change White Paper.

Wind Farms

The Coalition policy outlines support for wind farms in 'appropriate locations'. The parameters for an appropriate location are outlined in the planning section above. While the policy stipulates support for the development of renewable energy, the restrictions imposed on the development of wind farms confirm the political sensitivity of this form of renewable energy in regional areas.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency has been identified as integral to reducing emissions in households and small businesses.

The Government plans to provide greater information to households and businesses about energy efficiency and emissions reductions. For example, forums will be organised for individual inventors' products and capabilities to be showcased to Victorians.

The Government will also seek to:

  • Ensure that the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Scheme has safeguards ensuring that the effort to deliver energy efficiency is not undermined by rorting.
  • Support the extension of the Energy Saver Incentive to small and medium enterprises, and
  • Maintain energy efficiency rebate schemes, public housing and low income energy efficiency programs.

Government departments will be required to set the example in energy efficiency. A range of benchmarks for the energy use and efficiency of government departments will be established.

Barriers to the development of low emission generation

The Government will seek to identify the barriers to the development of low emission generation in assisting Victoria to meet its growing energy demand from lower-emission generation.

The Government will commission the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission to identify and report on the barriers to the development of a network of distributed renewable and gas fired electricity.

The regulatory barriers to tri-generation and co-generation energy will also be examined along with the price consequences of the different forms of energy generation.

For further information on the detail of the Government's planning, environmental and climate change policies, please contact us.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Elisa de Wit
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions