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O’Brien calls for panel on Alberton wind farm

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien has called on the Andrews Labor Government to establish a planning panel for the proposed Alberton wind farm to ensure that local people get a real say in the decision on a permit.

Mr O’Brien raised the matter in State Parliament this week, calling on the Minister to establish a planning panel under section 97e of the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

“It’s a sad fact that the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, has refused to meet with opponents of the wind farm and has given platitudes in response to their concerns,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Since the Labor Government took planning controls away from local councils on its election in 2014, the ability for affected locals to have their say has been greatly diminished.

“By establishing a panning panel the Minister could ensure that it visits the local Alberton region and allows people to have their say.

“I have been inundated with complaints about the proposed wind farm with locals citing noise, visual amenity, potential impacts on local bird life and a range of other impacts for their opposition.

“I don’t think any of us are actually opposed to renewable energy, and many people want instead to see the proposed Star of the South offshore wind farm proceed.

“The Minister has been considering the application for the Alberton wind farm for a long time, but he has refused to meet with concerned locals.

“Establishing a planning panel would ensure that they get their chance to have their say and all the relevant local and environmental issues would be addressed.”

Mr O’Brien said it was interesting that the Greens and their former leader Bob Brown were now raising concerns about wind farms and their impact on bird life in particular.

“I hope now the Minister will understand that it’s not just a NIMBY issue, but one that people are genuinely concerned about. Allowing people to have their say through a planning panel would be a good way to recognise those concerns.”

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