Lal Lal group challenging Planning Minister Alex Hamer
A rule change that allows the Planning Minister Richard Wynne to bypass planning panels and advertisements on amendments to approved wind farms could soon be challenged in the Supreme Court.
A group called the Lal Lal Environment Protection Association, which has campaigned against a wind farm at Lal Lal, has filed an originating motion with the court over ministerial changes to the Victorian Planning Provisions.
The group said in a statement it thought the change was “invalid as beyond power”.
President John McMahon said he had been advised not to comment on the move by his lawyer.
But the government said the change only applied to amendments to wind farm approvals that did not increase the number of turbines or move turbines closer to houses.
A spokeswoman for Mr Wynne said the change would allow changes in technology to made more easily.
"We want to encourage investment into wind farm technology and allow permit holders to upgrade to new and more efficient technologies without planning delays where appropriate, and for small changes to be easily made. The Minister will still refer major permit changes to a panel,” she said.
"The Minister was recently served with an Originating Motion and some supporting material seeking judicial review of a recent amendment to the Victorian Planning Provisions, by the Supreme Court. As the matter is likely to be before the Court in due course, it would be inappropriate to comment further."
The Lal Lal group used the example of WestWind Energy’s recent application to increase the height of the turbines from 130 metres to 161 metres as a reason to always send changes to a planning panel.
In his statement Mr McMahon said he had requested an explanation on the rule change but had received a response.
The amendment application, advertised in December, received 129 objections and 103 support letters according to Mr Wynne’s office.