Authorities deny development claims at national heritage site

Australian renewables authorities have denied claims they backed government proposals to place wind farm developments at a national heritage site in New South Wales.

The Australian Wind Energy Association (AusWEA) and the Australian Council of National Trusts (ACNT) issued a joint statement, saying that sites of national significance are inappropriate for wind farm developments, and that wind turbines should not be installed in a given location simply because it was windy.

“Sites suitable for wind farm development are limited not only by the need for strong and consistent winds and access to the electricity grid, but also by a variety of important environmental and landscape considerations,” president of AusWEA, Ian Lloyd-Besson said.

“The wind industry is one of the most benign and closely regulated industries in the world and the Australian industry has its own comprehensive best practice guidelines. Just like any other infrastructure development, every wind farm must also satisfy rigorous planning requirements.”

The joint announcement follows claims that government-owned energy network TransGrid had pinpointed environmentally sensitive site Kurnell as a possible area for development.

AusWEA and the ACNT are currently collaborating on a Landscape Values Project in order to help develop mutually agreed methodologies for future landscape assessment.

“We are working together to ensure that significant landscapes can be identified and protected, and that sensitive and appropriate wind development can proceed,” said Alan Graham, executive officer of the ACNT. “To suggest that we would advocate the development of a wind farm on a nationally significant site such as Kurnell is absurd.”

However, Mr Lloyd-Besson commented that wind energy did still represent a huge opportunity for New South Wales, with much potential for development at several key electorates along the Great Dividing Range, as outlined in AusWEA’s recent Wind Energy Investment Map.

TransGrid advised edie that it did not have any proposals for wind energy projects in the Kurnell region at this time, although Kurnell had been one of many areas identified by TransGrid as a potential site for energy generation.

“There is a strict planning process in place for New South Wales wind energy projects to ensure that they are appropriately sited and have a minimal effect on the local environment and community,” Mr Lloyd-Besson concluded.

By Jane Kettle

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