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 Impact Assessment Unit in the Department of Transport and Planning coordinates (DTP) coordinates the EES process, implementing the Ministerial Guidelines for Assessment of Environmental Effects 

As a part of this process DTP 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.

More details about the EES process can be found on the DTP website 

Victorian renewable energy target

The Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) will see 40 % of the State’s electricity generation supplied from renewable sources by the year 2025, increasing to 65 % by 2030. and 95% by 2035. Increasing renewable energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Victorian government aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.  They have also set an energy storage target of at least 2.6 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 and 6.3 GW by 2035.

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 will bring online at least 600 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy capacity in Victoria. You can find out more about VRET on the DEECA website



Renewable energy xones

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 that provides a roadmap for the development of the energy system in eastern Australia over the next 20- 30 years. 

On 30 June 2022  AEMO published the 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) for future development of the National electricity system.  It sets out committed, anticipated and future transmission line projects. This includes a proposed new transmission line to Mortlake.  It also provides predictions about future development of electricity generation facilities (mainly wind farms) in the South Western Victoria Renewable Energy Zone.

The 2022 ISP and all associated materials are available on AEMO's  website.

Council made a submission on the Draft 2022 ISP which can be found here

The Victorian Government has released the Victorian Transmission Investment Framework (VTIF).  VTIF maps out the development of Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) in Victoria including the South West REZ, which covers Moyne Shire. For more information visit the DEECA website.

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

The Environment Protection Amendment (Wind Turbine Noise) Regulations 2022 commenced on 18 October 2022. These regulations provide clarity for wind energy facility (WEF) operators and investors and assurance for communities regarding the protection of amenities. The amended Environment Protection Regulations 2021, including the new and incorporated wind turbine noise regulations in Division 5 of Part 5.3, can be found here

Updated EPA guidance is now available – the Wind Energy Facility Turbine Noise Regulation Guidelines have been revised to help industry comply with their regulatory obligations, including where changes to the regulations have been made. 

The guideline is intended to assist wind energy facility (WEF) operators to identify what best suits their specific circumstances to manage the risks from wind turbine noise emissions to prevent harm to human health and the environment. 

Guidance content outlines what WEF operators must do to comply with the regulations including: 

  • The obligations of WEF operators under the Environment Protection Act 2017
  • how and when post-construction noise assessments must be conducted, and results reported on
  • what noise management plans should contain and when they must be implemented
  • when annual statements should be submitted to EPA and what they should contain
  • how five-yearly monitoring should be conducted, and results reported on.
  • when extraneous noise data filtering methods and alternative monitoring points and criteria can be used.

More information