NSW has proposed what it says are some of the world’s toughest wind-farm guidelines, giving people living within 2km of turbines the right to veto them.
However Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard said NSW remained committed to being part of the federal government’s 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020.
Under the proposal, a company wanting to set up a wind farm in an area where landowner consent has not been given will have to go to an independent regional planning panel if there is community opposition.
“That means 100 per cent of neighbours have to be happy within that 2km zone,” Mr Hazzard told reporters in Sydney.
Mr Hazzard said he hoped the idea would find a balance between residents living near wind turbines and supporters of renewable energy.
“Today I am announcing that the NSW coalition government is putting out for public discussion some of the toughest wind-farm guidelines in the country, possibly the world,” he said.
The Victorian coalition government this year gave residents within a 2km radius a right of veto over wind turbines.
But Mr Hazzard said the NSW proposal was different to Victoria’s and that wind-farm proponents would get a bigger say.
People wishing to write submissions to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure have until March 14.
Across NSW, there are 17 applications to build wind farms, including 13 that are yet to be shown to the public.
The NSW Greens said the proposal would kill off the wind-generation sector in favour of coal seam gas as a solution to the state’s future energy needs.
“If this draft plan becomes law, the government has effectively chosen a destructive coal seam gas future for NSW, over the clean, green and jobs-rich wind-energy sector,” Greens planning spokesman David Shoebridge said.
“NSW is abandoning the most cost-effective option for reducing its carbon footprint, which in effect means it is giving the green light for coal seam gas projects across the state.”
The Labor opposition said the proposed 2km exclusion zone would destroy the wind industry and cost the state $3 billion in investment.
“The O’Farrell government’s decision to enforce the ‘most stringent’ restrictions on NSW wind farms will effectively shut down the wind industry in NSW,” opposition energy spokesman Luke Foley said.
“Victoria has already seen the industry pack up and leave the state and we will risk the same loss of jobs and investment here in NSW.”
Wind was the cheapest way of meeting the state’s renewable energy targets, Mr Foley said.
“With the O’Farrell government’s attack on solar power and now wind farms, NSW has almost no hope of reaching the 20 per cent renewable energy target,” he said.