NSW Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard has directed that nine wind farm projects now be considered as State Significant Developments instead of being dealt with under the Part 3A transitional provisions that are a legacy from Labor’s time in office. This decision effectively places them back in the planning system.
The wind farms affected by the NSW government’s reactionary decision are:
- Liverpool Range
- Crudine Ridge
- Paling Yards
- and Rye Park
It seems that NSW has joined the Victorian government in privileging a minority of vocal anti-wind campaigners over the majority of the community, who continue to support renewable energy. The previous planning system struck a sensible balance in decision making.
“The NSW government has sown the seeds of community division by reopening the planning process for these wind farms,” Yes 2 Renewables told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“A noisy minority refuse to accept wind energy and make unsubstantiated claims the technology has health impacts. This decision looks like a capitulation to those elements.”
The NSW government’s red tape stalls the cheapest form of new power generation from coming online and puts jobs and drought-proof income at risk.
The O’Farrell government’s decision to reopen these wind farms to objections may backfire. Communities around New South Wales are worried about the expansion of unconventional gas.
“A small and noisy anti-wind gets disproportionate attention from conservative governments around Australia,” said Friends of the Earth coordinator Cam Walker, a close observer of the unconventional gas industry.
“In contrast, the many thousands of community members who are opposing new coal and gas proposals across the state are being ignored by the NSW government.”
“Yet again the NSW government has shown it is willing to favour the interests of the coal and gas lobbies over the legitimate concerns of the community.”
If there’s one thing voters don’t like, it’s double standards. The O’Farrell government’s preferential treatment for unconventional gas over clean renewable energy may come back the haunt them at the polls in early 2015.