December 23, 2011

NSW landowners to get veto on wind farms

By NSW political reporter Liz Foschia and staff, 702 ABC Sydney, 23 December 2011

There are concerns new planning guidelines for wind farms in New South Wales will kill off the industry.

Just two days out from Christmas, Planning Minister Brad Hazzard revealed draft planning guidelines which give landowners the right to veto wind farms proposed within two kilometres of their homes.

Mr Hazzard says he is proposing the “toughest wind farm guidelines in Australia and possibly the world”, adding they will provide more certainty for business and more opportunity for community consultation.

The guidelines match the approach taken in Victoria where written consent from nearby landowners is needed before turbines are erected.

But noise levels from new wind farms will be more strict, with a limit of 35 decibels, five decibels less than in Victoria.

Low-frequency noise will also be taken into account.

Mr Hazzard says where that cannot be achieved there will be an appeals process.

“We have encouraged the proponents, the applicants, to actively engage in community consultation,” Mr Hazzard said.

“That proponent will be able to appeal to the Joint Regional Planning Panel to try and receive approval to proceed with the development application process.

“So there is a gateway in effect that we are putting in place. The gateway, though, only will kick in if the neighbours are not happy.”

The Government is currently considering 17 wind farm applications.

Mr Hazzard believes 13 that have not yet gone to public exhibition will be covered by the guidelines once they are finalised.

In response to the announcement, a Government spokesman says there will be an extended public consultation period until mid-March to allow people time to read and make submissions on the draft.

The Opposition and the Greens claim the new requirements will kill off the industry and billions of dollars of investment.

But Kane Thornton from the Clean Energy Council says there is still a path forward.

“The draft guidelines come with an acknowledgment by the NSW Government that the wind industry is very important for the NSW economy and certainly the wind industry welcomes that,” Mr Thornton said.

“These guidelines represent an opportunity to provide certainty for the wind industry to unlock some $10 billion of investment.”

URL to article: