The NSW government has flagged important changes to noise standards for the wind energy industry, which could make it difficult for anti-wind campaigners to target the industry.
NSW Environment minister Rob Stokes has flagged rule changes that would mean noise standards would be incorporated into a new “Industrial Noise Policy” that would cover all sectors.
This is seen as important because it means wind energy will be treated as any other industry, rather than a “special case” that could be victim to policy whimsy and aggressive anti-wind campaigns.
“It’s long been my view that we need to move away from a segmented approach to energy policy, and that we treat all generators the same way,” Stokes said in a speech to the Clean Energy Week conference in Sydney.
“That’s why I’ve asked the NSW EPA to consider the inclusion of the draft noise standards for wind energy projects into the Industrial Noise Policy which is due to be finalised by December.”
Stokes said this will provide clarity and certainty for wind farm operators, and will facilitate appropriate and responsible siting of wind farms in regional and rural areas.
It will also mean that wind farm noise is treated the same way as noise from other energy and resource projects – creating a level playing field across industry.
There was no discussion at what the standards would be.
Stokes is keen for NSW to embrace renewable energy, with about $10 billion in projects currently awaiting development.
However, there are powerful conservative forces against wind energy in the state, both at state and federal level.
Treasurer Joe Hockey has said he doesn’t like wind turbines, Maurice Newman has campaigned against them, and a group of federal and state conservative MPs – including the NSW Minister for Planning – has voiced is opposition to the ACT government’s planned auction of 200MW of wind energy capacity.