media release. Friends of the Earth. December 23, 2011
NSW follows Victoria’s backwards move on wind energy
The O’Farrell government has today released its much anticipated changes to wind farm planning guidelines.
“We welcome the NSW governments confirmation of the 20% renewables target by 2020 and commitment that wind will be a major energy generator in the state in coming years” said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator, Cam Walker.
“Clean energy companies and environmental groups have been concerned that NSW would follow the regressive policy developments of the Victorian government under Ted Baillieu. While the guidelines are not as punitive as in Victoria, if this draft plan becomes law, there will be a number of worrying precedents which can be expected to negatively impact on renewable energy in the state”.
“As is the case in Victoria, the guidelines use a 2km trigger when it comes to residents having the ability to oppose a project. What is the basis for selecting 2km? The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the government is following the wish list of anti-wind campaigners through adopting an arbitrary set-back model.”
“The recent Senate report into wind farms specifically said setbacks were problematic as they don’t take into account relevant factors such as noise levels and impacts of topography. Set backs should be measured in decibels, not metres.”
“On face value, the NSW proposal seems better than Victoria. Where residents within 2km oppose a turbine, the matter goes to a Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP). This is a better policy because it avoids the moral hazard of an outright veto, which can lead to a form of extortion given there can not be fair negotiations where one party – the objector – holds all the power.
“However, until the NSW Gateway Process is tested, we will not be able to say whether the policy will set back the wind industry as the guidelines in Victoria clearly are doing. The final make up of people on the JRPP will greatly influence the outcome in terms of granting a Site Certificate, and may be the ‘Devil in the detail’ that destroys the ability of the wind sector to develop in NSW.”
“Wind energy brings many benefits to regional communities – jobs, business opportunities, income for local Councils and land owners, and the production of greenhouse friendly energy. The government has clearly attempted to respond to a noisy minority which is deeply opposed to wind energy. We hope that the final policy does not work against the interests of the majority of people in NSW who do support renewable energy”.
“NSW has the ability to have at least 20% electricity produced by wind, as South Australia has already done. Regional areas of NSW will enjoy significant economic benefit if the wind industry is allowed to flourish.”
Further comment: Cam Walker 0419 338 047