Loopholes in regulations for wind farms near airports are being tightened by the federal government, which is working with states to address possible safety risks.
Following contact by The Standard this week over concerns a proposed Woolsthorpe project could pose risks for Warrrnambool Airport pilots, the government revealed new guidelines were being finalised.
The company behind the $85 million project said federal laws did not require flashing warning lights on wind towers, even though the boundary of the Woolsthorpe site is only about 15km from the airport.
“Once guidelines are finalised we expect jurisdictions will implement them through their respective local planning policies,” the federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport said yesterday.
“The Australian government is working with state and territory governments to ensure any risk to aviation safety from wind farms near airports is addressed.
“This work is being done through a group of senior officials from Planning and Transport Departments, called the National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group (NASAG).
“Draft guidelines have been developed by NASAG which will ensure that prior to granting development consent to proposed wind farms near airports, local planning authorities must confirm that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has assessed its safety.
“The department will work with organisations such as the Clean Energy Council, the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia and the Airports Association of Australia to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the draft guidelines.”
Warrnambool’s airport advisory group fears the tall turbines could be a safety issue for low-flying pilots of light aircraft in bad weather.
The Woolsthorpe project was first approved by former state planning minister Justin Madden three years ago and the company has applied to the new government for a six-month extension on the permit.
New Planning Minister Matthew Guy told The Standard it was normal practice for proponents to advise local airport authorities and the aviation safety regulator of wind farm proposals within 30 kilometres of an airport or aerodrome.