Australia — A new wind energy lobby group has called on Premier Daniel Andrews to delay reducing the setback between turbines and houses to allow for discussions on any implications for aerial firefighting equipment.
Wind Industry Reform Victoria president John McMahon said recent removal of turbine size limitations, combined with the planned setback reduction from two kilometres to one kilometre, would hinder firefighting efforts.
It would be highly irresponsible to reduce setbacks until the Premier consults properly with the CFA regarding the implications, he said.
Potentially thousands of properties across rural Victoria would be at risk.
However, pro-wind lobby group Victorian Wind Farm Alliance said the existing guidelines ensured fire management plans must be signed off by the CFA.
Wind farms build an entire new network of access tracks that can be used by fire equipment in the event of a fire, alliance national co-ordinator Andrew Bray said.
CFA aerial units fly over other tall structures as a matter of course and firefighting bodies have consistently told government inquiries that they have no problem with wind farms.
Opponents of wind farms will look for any argument they can to discredit them.
Wind farms are regulated to a much higher degree than any other source of power generation so the argument that it needs more regulation doesnt stack up.”
Current CFA guidelines state that wind farms should be on grassland with turbines spaced a minimum of 300 metres apart.
Mr McMahon, of Lal Lal near Ballarat, said wind companies were considering turbines 200 metres high or more.
Mr Andrews thinks that wind projects will create employment, but the only significant jobs would be short-term construction jobs, he said.
There is just too much at risk for too little gain.