Planning, Regulation and Compliance of Wind and Solar Farms

Issuing wind and solar farm planning permits

The Minister for Planning is the decision maker for new planning permit applications for all energy generation facilities that are 1 megawatt or greater. This includes both renewable energy facilities and non-renewable energy facilities such as:

  • wind
  • solar
  • pumped hydro
  • gas
  • waste-to-energy

The Minister for Planning is also the decision maker for new planning permit applications for utility installations. This includes utility installations that send or distribute electricity, such as power lines, or that store electricity if the installed capacity is 1 megawatt or greater, such as large scale batteries.

It is also the Minister’s role to endorse documents and plans that are specified in the permit, such as environmental and traffic management plans.

Council as a stakeholder actively participates in the planning assessment process.

Before 2013, permits for wind farms under 30 megawatts were issued by Moyne Shire Council.

Administrating and enforcing wind and solar farm planning permits

Moyne Shire Council is the responsible authority for administration and enforcement of the planning permit, whether the Minister or the Council issued it. 

Council ensures the wind farm developer complies with all the permit conditions through inspections, monitoring reports and audits. If there is a complaint about a wind farm that relates to a permit condition, Council will investigate the matter and keep the complainant informed of progress. 

Complaints can be lodged here or by contacting the Council by email, phone or visiting one of the Shire Offices.

Environmental Effects Statement

Energy projects with potential adverse environmental effects that could be significant in a regional or State context will require an Environmental Effects Statement (EES) under the Environment Effects Act 1978.

The EES process is not an approval process itself, rather it enables the Minister for Planning to make decisions about whether an energy generation project with potentially significant environmental effects should proceed.

If the Minister for Planning decides that an EES is required, the project proponent is responsible for preparing the EES and undertaking the necessary investigations.

Once the EES is completed and released for public comment, the Minister provides an Assessment. This assessment is taken into account while determining the outcome of the planning permit application.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) coordinates the EES process, implementing the Ministerial Guidelines for Assessment of Environmental Effects 

As a part of this process DELWP establishes a Technical Advisory Group to advise on the development and assessment of the EES. Council is routinely invited to take part in the Technical Advisory Group to provide relevant local information and highlight environmental concerns.

Victorian Renewable Energy Target

The Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) will see 40 per cent of the State’s electricity generation supplied from renewable sources by the year 2025, increasing to 50 per cent by 2030. Increasing renewable energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Victorian government aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The Victorian Government established the Victorian Renewable Energy Auction Scheme (VRET1) to support the achievement of the VRET.  In 2018, six projects were awarded support agreements under the scheme. Dundonnell and Mortlake South wind farms, in Moyne Shire, were successful and have now been constructed. In 2021 a second Victorian Renewable Energy Target Auction (VRET2) was launched to help source 100% renewable electricity for all Victorian Government operations by 2025. The Auction is aiming to bring online at least 600 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy capacity in Victoria. 

External VRET link 

External VRET Auction link

 

Renewable Energy Zones

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) manages electricity and gas systems and markets across Australia and plans for Australia’s energy future. Every 2 years AEMO releases an Integrated System Plan (ISP) that provides a roadmap for the development of the energy system in eastern Australia over the next 20 years. 

The 2020 ISP mapped 35 Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) in Australia.  REZs are areas where clusters of large-scale renewable energy facilities (like wind and solar farms) are developing with the potential for expansion in the future. This includes the South West Victoria REZ that contains Moyne Shire. AEMO has designated the South West REZ for Phase 1 development, which may result in further interest from renewable energy companies to develop new projects in Moyne Shire.

For more information about Renewable Energy Zones and the Integrated System Plan visit the AEMO website  www.aemo.com.au

The Victorian Government is preparing a Renewable Energy Zone Development Plan, which will include options for electricity infrastructure development in Moyne e.g. new transmission lines and large grid scale batteries. For further information about the Development Plan visit https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/renewable-energy/renewable-energy-zones

Wind farm noise

Wind farm noise compliance is the responsibility of the Environment Protection Authority.  Every noise complaint must go direct to the wind farm operator in the first instance. Each wind farm has a website where you can find details about their complaints handling processes and a toll free telephone number.

Details of wind farms in Moyne Shire can be found here

If your complaint is not resolved by the wind farm you can then lodge your complaint with the Environment Protection Authority pollution hotline on 1300 372 842 or via the EPA website