Justin Madden’s failure to consult with the South Gippsland community over major changes to the Bald Hills Wind Farm should be investigated by an Upper House inquiry.
Member for Gippsland South and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said the committee should investigate the Bald Hills Wind Farm due to concerns the Planning Minister had acted inappropriately.
“Gippsland South residents deserve to know whether due process was followed when the Planning Minister granted a permit to Mitsui to make major changes to the development of the wind farm,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Committee on Finance and Public Administration should inquire into and report on the consultation and approval process surrounding the decision to determine whether it was inappropriate.”
Mr Ryan said Mr Madden’s conduct in the planning portfolio more broadly was to be scrutinised after a document leaked from his office advocated a sham public consultation on the redevelopment of Melbourne’s Windsor Hotel.
“Mr Madden has demonstrated an unwillingness to listen to the views of the public on planning projects such as the Bald Hills Wind Farm,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Minister’s decision to sign off on a 25-metre increase in the height of the turbines was ill-considered and clearly was in breach of the same rules of natural justice about which this government complained when the initial refusal to grant the permit for Bald Hills ended up in court in 2006.
“The permit was granted on the pretence that the increase does not constitute a major change, despite the fact that the turbines now require lights to ensure they meet aviation guidelines.
“Mr Madden has failed in his responsibilities as Planning Minister. He has failed to consider the views of the local community or the impact the increase will have on the environment.”
Mr Ryan said residents could present their views to the inquiry, which is due to start on March 12, by making a written submission.
“I urge anyone who wishes to make a submission to contact my office on 5144 1987 for more details,” Mr Ryan said.