Australia levels playing field for wind farms

State and territory governments in Australia have backed a federal plan to adopt a uniform policy on wind farms and follow the same set of guidelines.

Until now, the rules have varied in different parts of the country and a wind farm that might be welcomed with open arms by one state might be turned down in another area.

The guidelines aim to improve consistency and transparency in the wind farm planning and approval process.

They also set out to make things easier for would be developers to get permission, as part of a national drive to increase the share of Australia’s energy mix coming from renewables.

“Wind energy has the potential to deliver a significant proportion of Australia’s future electricity needs and an important role to play in helping Australia achieve our target of producing 20% of our electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020,” said the country’s Environment Minister, Peter Garrett.

“The government is serious about lowering our carbon emissions and producing energy in a cleaner way, but we also know that to do that we must agree on how best to manage a range of issues related to wind farm development like turbine noise, impacts on landscapes, and animals like birds and bats.”

Mr Garrett said the development of guidelines was one of the recommendations of a report on impediments to wind farm establishment, received by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council at their meeting in Adelaide this week.

Responsibility for the assessment and approval of proposed wind farms rests primarily with the states and territories.

However, under the national environment legislation, the Commonwealth Environment Minister can also have a role to play where there are potential impacts on matters of national environmental significance.

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie