Planning guidelines for wind farms to be built in New South Wales are desperately needed and long overdue, the Australian Wind Alliance says.
In response to the release of a wind energy planning framework for the state, Alliance national coordinator Andrew Bray said such guidelines must provide certainty to communities and industry and allow NSW to compete again with other states like Victoria and South Australia.
New South Wales is the only state or territory without such guidelines – after the government failed to finalise draft guidelines introduced back in 2011.
This is despite the overwhelming popularity of wind farm among people living in the state (81 percent of New South Wales residents support wind farms) and their widely held view (83 percent) that NSW should be sourcing more of its electricity from renewable sources[i].
Mr Bray said a lack of planning progress over the past five years had damaged the growth of renewables in NSW, which is one the country’s largest emitters but generates one of the lowest percentages of renewable electricity.
“Delays on wind farms development have held back NSW’s rural and regional communities – denying them the opportunity to access new investment and sustainable jobs that other parts of the country are already benefiting from,” he said.
New modelling shows New South Wales would gain more than 11,000 jobs – more than any other state – and significant jobs growth per capita if the country transitions away from fossil fuel-based energy.
“Consulting communities from the start is critical in making sure everyone understands the benefits a wind farm can deliver not just nationally, in reducing our emissions, but also locally.
“We welcome the focus on sharing financial benefits, which opens the way for local communities to derive maximum benefit from hosting wind farms.
“It’s also important that the visual impact guidelines do not lead to a situation where planning laws are designed purely on the basis of whether someone likes the look of something or not.”
Mr Bray said he looked forward to reading through all the detail of the framework, and preparing a submission on behalf of Alliance members.
[i] This was a state-government commissioned study released earlier this year: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/actionmatters/community-attitudes-renewable-energy-150419.pdf