Amendments VC124 and VC125 simplify the application
process for wind energy facilities and reduce the distance between
wind turbines and dwellings.
Two Planning Scheme Amendments in Victoria, VC124 and VC125,
have partially relaxed the previous Government's windfarm
policy by streamlining the planning permit application process for
wind energy facilities and reducing the allowable distance between
wind turbines and dwellings from two kilometres to one
Taken together with the passage of the Renewable Energy
(Electricity) Amendment Bill 2015, these changes could mean the
beginning of a new era for the renewable energy industry in
The previous Victorian Government's wind farm policy
The Coalition's policy had been implemented in 2011 through
Amendments VC78 and VC82, which:
removed the Minister's decision-making powers over wind
energy facilities and made Councils the responsible authority for
all permit applications regardless of the size of the proposed
prohibited wind turbines within two kilometres of a dwelling,
except with the written consent of the owners of the dwellings
located within a two kilometre radius of any turbine;
introduced no-go zones for wind energy facilities; and
introduced new Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development
of Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria (August 2011).
Amendment VC124: changes to allowable distance
Amendment VC124 which commenced on 2 April 2014, introduced the
following significant changes in all Victorian Planning
the allowable distance of a wind turbine to a dwelling is
reduced from two kilometres to one kilometre, so a proponent must
only obtain consent from owners of dwellings located within that
one kilometre zone;
the Minister for Planning is now the responsible authority for
decisions on all new permit applications for a wind energy
the removal, destruction or lopping of vegetation on Crown land
will now be the subject of a permit exemption provided that it is
carried out by a person acting in accordance with an authorisation
order made under section 82 or 84 of the Traditional Owner
Settlement Act 2010.
Amendment VC125: changes to the definition of "wind
Amendment VC125 which came into operation on 11 June 2015
expands the definition of "wind energy facility" to
include related transmission and distributions systems of power
lines within the definition.
Previously, the transmission system of power lines was defined
as a "utility installation" or a "minor utility
installation" and considered a separate land use to the use of
land for a "wind energy facility", requiring a separate
permit from Council as the responsible authority. Consequently,
proponents of wind energy facilities were required to undertake two
separate planning permit processes for the one proposal. The
broader definition of "wind energy facility" will now
allow a single integrated planning permit application process to be
Amendment VC125 also updates the "Policy and planning
guidelines for development of wind energy facilities in
Victoria" to reflect the changes made to the planning schemes
by Amendments VC124 and VC125. A reference document within the
VPPs, the Guidelines cover the planning process for wind energy
facilities, from identifying suitable locations through to meeting
permit application requirements. It is to be noted that the no-go
zones introduced by VC82 remain in place.
How will Amendments VC124 and VC125 affect the wind energy
sector in Victoria?
The streamlined permit application process including the
Minister's new decision making powers may result in a more
consistent approach to the determination of planning permit
applications. The reduction in the "prohibition zone"
from two kilometres to one kilometre before land owner consent is
required may ease negotiations with land owners and potentially
result in the more efficient location of turbines, facilitating
increased investment in the wind energy sector.
While the Federal and State Governments' policies in
relation to renewable energies may differ, the
end of an uncertain period for the RET and the streamlining of
the planning application process for wind energy facilities may
mark the beginning of a new era in the wind industry in
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
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