Labor removes community voice for renewable energy projects

Liberal Party Victoria

The Allan Labor Government is silencing the voice of local communities from energy project planning decisions by bringing into effect extraordinary new rules that leave it up to the Minister to notify potential objectors.

An explanatory report published when the new rules were gazetted clearly sets out that the government’s aim in amending the planning laws is to fast-track as many renewable energy projects as possible.

The amendment, known as VC261, also explicitly states the effect of exempting it from certain sections of the Planning & Environment Act “is that third parties will not be notified of the proposed amendment or be provided with an opportunity to make submissions on the amendment or be heard by a panel”, and the right of objectors to appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal will be removed “enabling more timely decisions”.

Shadow Minister for Energy, Affordability and Security, David Davis, said: “Labor is undermining the basic democratic rights of local communities by removing appeal rights to any decision to grant a planning permit for a new renewable energy project.

“The Minister has given herself these powers without broad consultation. Even within the fast-track approach, the Minister has removed a requirement for evidence of the likely financial feasibility of the proposal.”

Shadow Minister for Planning, James Newbury, said: “Under these new planning powers, Premier Jacinta Allan and Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio will be able to force developments around the state whether or not they are appropriate and whether or not they have community support.

“The only appeal will be to the Supreme Court, a course of action beyond the reach of most impacted communities.

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