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Windfarm rules protect neighbours

Wind farm developers will be required to consult more closely with residents living within two kilometres of proposed turbines, under new draft planning guidelines released last week.

Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard said the draft guidelines strike a balance between providing opportunities for investment in renewable energy and ensuring local communities are protected from the impacts of wind farm developments.

“NSW Labor left local communities in the dark in relation to renewable energy, ignoring the concerns of rural property owners living nearby wind farm developments,” he said.

“This government recognises the need to ensure renewable energy has a bright future in this state and that includes ensuring the voice of local communities is heard.”

Mr Hazzard said the draft guidelines included a rigorous gateway assessment for wind farms where proposed turbines are located within two kilometres of existing residents.

“The guidelines introduce an innovative assessment approach which ensures upfront consultation between wind farm developers and local communities,” he said.

“For proposals within two kilometres of residences where landowner consent has not been obtained, the Joint Regional Planning Panel will determine whether the development application can proceed as proposed.”

Mr Hazzard said the government recognised community concerns about visual amenity and noise and was proposing the most rigorous noise controls for wind farms in Australia, addressing issues such as low frequency noise, tonality and excessive amplitude modulation.

“The government is also proposing to strengthen auditing and compliance measures, giving neighbours the ability to seek an independent noise review if a wind farm is built,” he said.

“The Environmental Protection Authority will investigate complaints and ensure compliance with approved standards.

“As these guidelines are in draft form only, the intent is that residents and applicants can continue to have their say in the future modelling of the NSW approach to wind farms.

The guidelines will be on public exhibition until March 14, 2012.

They can be found at www.planning.nsw.gov.au/onexhibit ion.