As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull performs a sleight of hand on clean energy investment at a federal level, the NSW Legislative Council on Thursday unanimously supported a motion aimed at fast-tracking the development of large-scale renewable energy projects in the state.
The motion, introduced by the Greens, calls on the state government to designate proposals for large-scale renewables development as ‘Strategic Energy Projects’ – a status aimed at moving the projects through the planning system in an efficient way, and with the assistance of specific case managers.
According to the motion, the government can declare a project to be a Strategic Energy Project if it has the potential to make a substantial contribution to energy security and economic growth, across the State or in a region.
It notes that this has been done in the past for NSW coal seam gas projects being developed by both Santos and AGL.
In a statement released on Thursday, NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said there were currently at least 23 large-scale projects in the NSW planning pipeline, amounting to billions of dollars of regional development and jobs “stuck in system”.
“It’s vital that we rapidly develop renewable energy for our climate and to provide job opportunities in regional NSW, so I’m pleased the Upper House has supported the… motion.
“Planning Minister Rob Stokes said in 2014 “when it comes to clean energy, [NSW] can be Australia’s answer to California’,” Buckingham added.
“Granting Strategic Energy Status to renewable energy projects would be one thing the government could do towards attaining this goal.
“The Greens want a rapid transition away from coal to clean energy and this means ensuring that these projects navigate the planning process in a smooth and speedy way is vitally important,” he said.