ALL development applications for wind farms will be automatically referred to the Planning Assessment Commission for determination, NSW Planning Minister Pru Goward announced this week.
Ms Goward said the new process, which will affect all new and current applications already being reviewed by the Department of Planning and Environment, will ensure independence in decisions and maximise the community's opportunity to participate.
"We have listened to the community and made changes that mean all wind farm applications will be assessed by the independent Planning Assessment Commission, effectively taking the government out of the equation," Ms Goward said.
"The voice of the community has been strong on this point. Wind farms have the potential to affect entire communities, and it is important there is a very transparent and independent process for their assessment."
Ms Goward said another change to be introduced was ensuring each project's Community Consultative Committee had appropriate representation from the local community.
"Proponents of wind farms are required to establish a committee to keep a direct link with the community during assessment, and if approved, remain throughout the term of the project," Ms Goward said.
"I've been made aware several proponents have appointed members to a Community Consultative Committee where undue bias has been demonstrated – this undermines community participation and will not be tolerated.
"Under these reforms, Department of Planning and Environment will be responsible for selecting committee membership through an open expression of interest process for wind farms. This will help keep the channel between the proponent and the public open and direct."