The Victorian government has announced it has put a planning mechanism in place to ensure the state’s uptake of large-scale renewables is well-planned and responsive to the needs of the local community.
Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said changes had been made to state planning rules to ensure planning permits would now be required for the power lines that connect new large-scale generators to the electricity network. Previously, there was no requirement for a planning permit to build power lines that operate at less than 220,000 volts.
“There has been considerable growth in renewable energy across Victoria so we’re making sure the planning processes are in place to ensure new developments are safe, well thought out and respect the needs of nearby communities,” Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said.
Another change to the planning rules has been introduced in response to concerns that there was no public involvement in the process for determining power line routes, and that grid expansion was occurring in an unregulated manner.
Under the new rule, a wind or solar farm that needs new power lines to be connected to the grid will go through a thorough and transparent planning assessment process to ensure the views of the community are heard and potential impacts are mitigated.
“This change will ensure that developers take into account visual aspects and traffic safety issues, while also ensuring the public have the chance to make submissions as part of the permit application process,” Wynne added.
The government says these changes bring Victorian regulation into line with other states and will only apply to new planning permit applications for electricity generators, not retrospectively to existing planning permits.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said the move was necessary to support the massive renewable energy boom in Victoria, which will see the state’s energy network transformed in the coming years.
“By putting the planning mechanisms in place now we can make sure our new solar and wind farms have the right infrastructure in place before they start their important job of feeding power back into Victoria’s energy grid,” she said.
As it expanded the state’s renewable energy target from 40% in 2025 to 50% in 2030 last year, the Victorian Labor government said that 732 MW of new renewable energy capacity had been built in four years. It reports more than 3,000 MW of renewable capacity was under construction or under contract.