The Queensland government is proposing to cut the red tape of wind farm development by shifting the cost and responsibility for assessing project proposals from local governments to the state.
As we have noted on One Step sister site RenewEconomy, Queensland is keen to get the ball rolling on large-scale renewables – an area in which it is currently seriously lacking – to meet its 50 per cent by 2030 target.
Queensland has no large scale wind farms, apart from a 12MW installation at Windy Hill. However there are several projects in the pipeline, including the giant 1,200MW wind-solar hybrid plant proposed for the Kennedy project, and a large pipeline of large scale solar projects.
In a draft document opened to public consultation this week, the Palaszczuk government said the new code and guildeline would provide a “statewide, consistent, whole-of-government approach” to the assessment and regulation of wind farm development, in line with its “strong interest” in increasing the production and use of renewable energy.
The government – which recently “called in” a large-scale solar proposal in the state’s sugar-cane growing region, heading off a potentially long and costly legal challenge by a local farmer – said that few local government planning schemes included provisions to address the complex characteristics specific to wind farms.
It said that increasing interest in wind farm development in recent years had highlighted a need for a more consistent approach to assessment and regulation across the state, as well as clearer guidelines for developers, as they prepare their proposals.
“Under the new code, wind farm development will be carefully considered against the State’s core objectives to achieve a liveable, sustainable and prosperous Queensland,” a draft summary says.
And after the federal government’s appointment of a Wind Farm Commissioner, it gives a nod to community health and safety, saying that the new code and guideline will “assess and consider all potential adverse impacts as a result of wind farm developments, and ensure that these impacts are avoided or mitigated.”
The code will also require wind farm development applicants to notify the public of their intentions, and allow for the community to comment.
The draft – a revision of an early proposal, tabled in April – will be open for submissions for a period of eight weeks, until 5pm on Friday November 20.
The code and guideline are then expected to come into effect, with inclusion in the State Development Assessment Provisions, in early 2016.