The New South Wales Government will streamline the process for approving wind farms.
NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes said he wanted to encourage opportunities to harness clean energy, and ensure the interests of local communities are taken into account during project assessments.
“The new framework is designed to help local communities engage earlier and more effectively with wind energy projects planned for their area.
“The two key concerns that the framework aims to address relates to noise and the health effects related to noise, as well as the visual amenity.
“But with regard to the more broader health impacts, we will be guided by the National Health and Medical research Council findings which has not found any link to any particular health impacts being directly due to windfarms.
“But they have found that noise itself can be an irritant.
“As a result there will be a noise limit of 35 decibels or 5 decibels above the background in noisy areas.
He said often the major concern was the way they [wind farms] looked.
“Buffers don’t always work if they are visible. Often it is a matter of changing the sighting by a few hundred metres to placate the concerns of the neighbours.
Mr Stokes said the government would encourage developers to explain to residents the benefits of the project and be sensitive to community concerns if they wanted to get social licence for a project.
“If there are payments being made then the more widely those payments can be made the more likely you are to have a smooth process throughout the approval process.
He said the time it took to approve projects was also a concern.
“The average of 1,000 days is clearly ridiculous. There is one example of a project taking 2,000 days to get approved.
“That is in no-one’ interest. The faster we can assess projects the better for everyone”, he said.
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