By Denis Peters
There was anger and hostility at a wind industry meeting today, federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell said.
But he said he believed a national code of practice for wind farms would eventually be found.
Senator Campbell is hosting the meeting of governments, wind energy industry and community groups over the often-controversial decision of where to erect wind turbines.
Earlier this year the minister blocked a $220-million wind farm in Victoria’s Gippsland region, saying it would be a danger to the rare orange-bellied parrot.
Different states have different criteria for rules on where to place wind farms, and Senator Campbell wants a uniform code.
Some robust views were expressed at the meeting, at Parliament House.
“We’ve had deeply divided camps in the room and there’s been some displays of anger and hostility,” Senator Campbell said.
“But, overall, I would say, by the end of the day, the wind energy industry have endorsed the need for a national code, the planning institute have endorsed the need for it and the National Trust, Birds Australia and all the local community groups have had a very strong consensus in there.
“The other thing is that having some of the leaders of these communities and local governments and the really angry, affected communities sitting together for a few hours in a room, will, I hope, be part of a healing process, which can be a positive thing for renewable energy.”
Senator Campbell said the next step would be to work with the industry and communities to formalise the code.
“The industry … will be working with us,” he said.
“They’re developing their own guidelines, which can become part of the code and that will then have an accreditation process in it.
“I think that the states will come on board because the wind energy industry will do my work for me and suggest that it’s a very good idea that they come on board.”
The Australian Wind Energy Association president and Pacific Hydro executive, Andrew Richards, said it was positive that different stakeholders were brought together, and thanked the government for doing that.
“It is good to have the conversation,” he said.
“Our industry is very keen to see best-practice guidelines adopted throughout the country for all developments and all developers in our industry.
“We see that, potentially, the national code the minister’s talking about is a good vehicle to help that get into place.”
Mr Richards said his organisation, which had about 100 members, wanted to rein in so-called rogue operators.
“We want to have an accreditation process in place, whether it be under the national code or some other format, that ensures that you either abide by the rules or you don’t play the game.
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