THE Victorian Government has rejected a plea by two councils to grant them a reprieve from tough new wind farm bans.
The City of Greater Bendigo and Mount Alexander Shire Council have received letters from the Government in recent weeks, restating Planning Minister Matthew Guy's decision to make good on an election promise to "give the community a greater voice" on wind farms.
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In August last year, the Government gave households the power to veto any turbine construction within 2km of their homes.
It also declared areas of the state "no-go zones" for wind farms, including parts of the Macedon and McHarg ranges, the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas, the Yarra Valley, and within 5km of the Great Ocean Road and Bass Coast.
Both councils, whose shires fall within parts of the no-go areas, earlier this year sought an exemption from the laws on the basis of overwhelming community support for small wind farms.
At the time, Mount Alexander Shire chief executive officer Phil Rowland wrote to the Government pointing out "a potential economic loss to the shire as a small community-owned wind farm would now not be able to proceed".
"Evidence of economic benefit is evident at Daylesford, where a wind farm development resulted in $7 million being brought into the area during construction," he wrote.
Mr Rowland indicated he would take the Government's response before the council in the next fortnight to vote on a course of action.
Bendigo councillor Keith Reynard said it would send a second letter to Mr Guy and continue to fight for the exemption.
"I will continue to push and will go down whatever avenue is necessary," Mr Reynard said.
"The Government explanation saying it gives communities greater control of the process, in fact, does the opposite.
"Instead it places enormous, unfair and skewed power in the hands of one or two individuals who have the power to veto any wind farm project."
Mr Reynard's request for a meeting with Mr Guy was not addressed in the Government's response.
But after being contacted by The Weekly Times, a spokesman for Mr Guy said he would schedule a meeting with both councils within the next fortnight to discuss their concerns.
He said the request for a meeting "may not have been clear because of some kind of communication issue".
But he reiterated the minister had no intention of "changing the planning laws at this stage".