NSW follows Victoria’s backwards move on wind energy

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

14 thoughts on “NSW follows Victoria’s backwards move on wind energy

  1. Basically , under these new guidelines , nothing has changed . Rural communities will still get steamrolled by big wind . A JRPP , will be just a formality . Destroy to earth to save the earth . There are far better alternatives than wind.

  2. “Destroys the earth to save the earth” really?? So you would compare wind turbines to things like coal mining? I don’t know what the farmers at Caroona think about wind turbines, but I bet they can tell the difference between a wind farm and an open cut coal mine or coal-seam gas field on their land.

    The response to this legislation from 100% Renewables was headlined “Wind turbines wrapped in red tape, while coal and gas drill on” which is probably a more likely summary of what the legislation means, put in its full context.

  3. So anyone opposing a coal seam gas project or open cut mine within 2000 meters of their land has the power to object? I didn’t think so…

  4. Wind requires over 500 times the area a conventional generation facility needs for the same theoretical production of energy . Since wind energy can’t be stored or produced on demand , its a extra source of electricity but never a replacement . Wind turbines have been around for over 30 years now , but Never has a coal fire plant be closed down or replaced by wind energy .
    Geothermal , solarthermal and biomass renewable energy on the other hand CAN provide real baseload,peakload and peaking power to all of us .
    So the 2 option would seem to be
    A: Expanding renewable energy that works and gradually reducing our dependance on fossil fuels, or
    B:Expanding renewable energy that works and gradually reducing our dependance on fossil fuels and cover Australia in Wind Turbines that destroy the environment and do nothing to reduce our dependance on fossil fuels.

    Option “A” gets my vote….

  5. Winston, where do you get the figure for wind requiring over 500 times the area of a “conventional” generation facility? I see sheep and cattle grazing right up to the base of wind turbines, and sheltering in the shade of the tower, no problem. Whereas a conventional coal power station includes a vast open pit mine…

    You mention several despatchable renewable energy generators (geothermal, solar thermal, biomass) but fail to note that in at least the first two cases it’s possible to make power plant despatchable at short notice, which can perfectly complement the (currently much cheaper) source of energy from wind.

    South Australia has largely replaced its imported power from Victoria with wind energy over the last 5 years. That’s not closing a coal power station yet but it’s certainly replacing one’s energy.

    I think there is pretty good evidence that wind turbines are a significant environmental benefit. Can you explain how they “destroy the environment”?

    1. Ben, apologies, I missed your reference to recent posts being moved over to the soapbox. As I cannot delete my latest post, would you mind shifting it over to the soapbox as well? Sorry for the inconvenience.

  6. The South Australian Government has referred the Quinn case to the Environment ? Court for a ruling. The figure quoted that 20% of wind energy supplies the State has been proven to be wrong. If you look up you will find that it is far less. At least the NSW State government has the put a setback distance until all is proven that they cause problems for anyone, anything. The Senate Enquiry says research needs to be done but no one is coming forward to do so. Why? It is also a fact that the wind industry ‘gags’ people from saying anything negative against turbines if they are hosting? Why? Why is the industry being paid subsidies? One developer stated that no asubsidies no turbines? Why? If they are so wonderful why the restraints? Too much is happening overseas that has negative impacts for turbines after all they are not windmills, add to CO2 emissions with their construction and have proven to be inefficient and costly. Denmark only gets 4% from turbines in energy and has stopped all onshore projects.Why?

  7. The setback ruling is a good one for communities and farmers, its pretty clear that there are problems with various aspects of wind farming that require a sensible distance between a turbine and a home.
    Anyone who thinks its ok to put one closer is more then welcome to put one in their backyard (if they have one)

    1. The setback ruling is pure politics, spare me the crocodile tears. There are 2 houses that I know of within 800 m of the Toora windfarm, the residents of both properties have no problems at all with the turbines.

      Again, why is it okay to have ridiculous setbacks for turbines but CSG wells can be far closer to houses even though they frequently leak gas? Peter, your double standards are showing again.

  8. The only way we will go backwards is if we continue with turbines. They contribute to CO2 emissions, destroy the environment and have to have backup from some other form of They are inefficient and costly. To have a setback is to protect people who are sensitive to noise and to infrasound which is a sound that you feel rather than hear. Like an epidemic not everyone gets sick. World experts like Dr. M. Swinbanks a former NASA scientist with top notch credentials says that turbines do cause some people health issues and until all the research (independent) is done you have a wise government that puts a setback from any such things as coal seam gas, industrial turbines etc. Take a look at europesillwind and see what really is going on its a matter of money in any project without taking in consideration for the environment and people.

    1. If an independent survey/study was conducted and found each of your points to be factually incorrect, especially when compared with fossil fuel powered generation and its effects on communities, would you reconsider your position?

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