Windfarms including the nearby Uungula Wind Farm and Crudine Ridge Wind Farm will now be handled as state significant developments, in a move the state government says will restore “the community’s appeal rights in the development application process”.
The chief change in the process is that people will now have the right of appeal after the decision is made to approve or deny the project.
Wind farms were previously classed as critical infrastructure, with their approval decided by the Minister for Planning. As state significant developments, Uungala and Crudine will be assessed by Planning and Infrastructure and the independent Planning Assessment Commission.
“The projects will now be considered as State Significant Developments instead of being dealt with under the Part 3A transitional provisions left over from Labor,” Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard said.
“Under Labor there were no appeal rights for the community or the proponent and decisions were made by the Minister with no right of appeal.”
The two local windfarms are both in the midst of the approval process; Crudine is at the assessment phase, having made its responses to public submissions on the project, and Uungala has submitted a draft Environmental Assessment and been asked to make alterations to it.
Mr Hazzard said the new system would ensure “major projects like wind farms would be considered in an open and transparent process”.
“The community can have confidence that their voices will be heard on wind farm projects in NSW and that projects will be assessed and decisions made at arm’s length from the Government,” he said.
Wind farm projects lodged under the Labor state government were initially assessed under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, until the current state government in 2011 introduced a system that would see the decisions delegated to Planning and Infrastructure and the independent Planning Assessment Commission.
Windfarms were given a deadline to submit their Environmental Assessments to be assessed under the former system.
“The deadlines on these proposals have not been met so the Government will now transition them (as State Significant Developments) to the Liberals-Nationals planning system that stresses openness and transparency and the community’s voice being heard,” Mr Hazzard said.
Any elements of the assessment process that have already been undertaken will not need to be repeated. For example if the project has already been on public exhibition, it will not need to be re-exhibited.
The nine proposals now falling under the new conditions are Yass Wind Farm, Crookwell Wind Farm, Rye Park Wind Farm, Liverpool Range Wind Farm, Paling Yards Wind Farm, Rugby Wind Farm, Bango Wind Farm, Crudine Ridge Wind Farm and Uungula Wind Farm.
Flyers Creek Wind Farm approved by the Planning Assessment Commission in the Central West was the final wind farm proposal which complied with the earlier requirements and was asseessed under the former system.
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