Learn how new projects are approved

Approvals

All new projects must meet environmental, cultural heritage and planning approvals before they can proceed.

Community Engagement Review

The Australian Government on the 2 February 2024 released the Community Engagement Review and accepted in principle all its recommendations.
The review was commissioned in July 2023 to advise on improving community engagement on renewable energy infrastructure developments.

The Review made the following recommendations:
• encourage best practice and select reputable developers for new projects
• reduce unnecessary and onerous community engagement by improving the way project sites are selected
• make engagement more efficient by revising planning and approval processes
• improve complaint handling processes
• keep communities informed about the transition, including its goals, benefits and requirements
• equitably share the benefits of the transition.
Learn more here

Solar energy

The Victorian Minister for Planning is the responsible authority for new planning permit applications of all energy generation facilities that are 1 megawatt or greater. This includes solar energy facilities. Learn more here.

Onshore wind farms

The Victorian Minister for Planning is the responsible authority for new planning permit applications of all wind energy generation facilities that are 1 megawatt or greater. These applications are assessed against the local planning scheme to ensure they are affordable, environmentally friendly and beneficial for the local community. Learn more about the planning process here.

Offshore Wind farms

The Federal Minister for Energy and Climate Change has the authority to declare areas within Commonwealth waters (three nautical miles from the coast) open for offshore wind development. Minister Chris Bowen declared 15,000km of the waters off Gippsland, between Lakes Entrance and Wilsons Promontory, open on 22 December 2022. Declared area in the Gippsland Region

The Victorian Government has released an Implementation Statement 3 including updates on procurement approaches, legislative and regulatory reform, supply chain and local supply, and transmission and ports. It also outlines an approach to protecting the environment and continued commitment to working with Traditional Owners and support meaningful steps to self-determination.

Pre-feasability activity

Before an area is officially declared suitable for offshore wind, a developer may start earlier investigations in possible offshore wind areas. This is called ‘pre-feasibility activity’ and can include:

  • consulting with the community to understand their concerns or opportunities
  • doing assessments on the environment, such as understanding more about migratory birds and marine life in these areas.

Communities in Gippsland have already seen some of this developer activity. Three offshore wind developers have been funded through the Energy Innovation Fund to do pre-feasibility activity.

Feasibility licence-Current Stage

Issued by the Australian Government, the feasibility licence period is up to seven years. Developers must develop a management plan – as part of this they need to:

  • consult with the local community and demonstrate how they will share the area with other users
  • have a plan for gathering and responding to ongoing feedback from stakeholders throughout the life of the project.

The management plan must be approved by the Australian Offshore Infrastructure Regulator before an application for a commercial licence can be granted.

See Gippsland preliminary consideration below. We anticipate a decision in the first 1/4 of 2024.

Commercial licence​

To apply for a commercial licence, developers must have received all other relevant approvals, including environmental approvals.

Before deciding whether to grant a commercial licence, the Australian Government may require the developer to conduct specific kinds of consultation.

If the commercial licence is granted, which is for a period of 40 years, the construction of the wind farm can commence.

Learn more about establishing offshore wind here.

Gippsland feasibility licence: Preliminary consideration

In December 2023, The Australian Government declared that of the 37 feasibility licence applications received:

  • 6 are under preliminary consideration for the granting of feasibility licences and have begun the next stage of consultation with First Nation groups
  • 6 are under preliminary consideration to progress through the overlapping application process, where applicants will be invited to revise and resubmit their applications to remove overlap with other equally meritorious applicants
  • A preliminary decision has been made to not to proceed to grant a feasibility licence in relation to the remaining 25 applications, on the basis that they are not as meritorious as overlapping applications, subject to further consultation with those applicants.
GNE Web Portal Transmission Lines

Transmission lines

The current process for building transmission projects in Victoria is:

  • The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) forecasts what is needed at a national level – and when – in its Integrated System Plan.
  • AEMO Victorian Planning (AVP) identifies the best project to meet the need through a cost-benefit analysis (the regulatory investment test for transmission), including a proposed location for the project.
  • AVP then runs a contestable procurement process to award a contract for the selected project’s design, construction, ownership and operation.
  • The successful proponent undertakes a detailed project design and relevant planning and environmental approvals, including determining a preferred project route.

Learn more about the process for planning and building transmission.

The Victorian Government, through VicGrid, also plays a role in transmission development in Victoria.

VicGrid is:

To be involved in consultation processes, visit Engage Vic.

The role of local government

Local governments cannot approve or decline large scale renewable energy projects. Local governments can build regional partnerships with and advocate to state and federal governments. Local governments can influence residential and industrial land supply through local planning, can support business in securing new supply chains and can keep communities informed. Gippsland local governments involved in responding to new energy projects include:

Latrobe City Council – Our Transition

Wellington Shire Council – Renewable Energy Planning

South Gippsland Shire Council – Renewable Energy Projects

One Gippsland – Offshore Wind Policy
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D'Ambrosio MP, Wellington Shire Mayor Ian Bye, Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic MP, in Seaspray to officially announce Gippsland as Australia’s first offshore wind area, 19-12-2020.
The Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) team with staff from 13 Gippsland Environmental Agencies (GEA) as part of the regular GLaWAC-GEA Partnership working group meeting. Curtesy East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority.

Traditional Owner rights and interests

Traditional Owners have unique legal rights and interests across their Country. These include rights and interests under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic), Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic) and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic).

The Gunaikurnai are traditional owners of the land and waters bordering much of the proposed renewable energy zone. The declared offshore wind zone borders on land and waters which the Gunaikurnai people hold Native Title over and which the State of Victoria have entered into an agreement with Gunaikurnai people under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. The area also takes in the seabed which in recent archaeological history was occupied by Gunaikurnai ancestors.

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