A NEW wind energy planning framework will ensure that NSW has the right settings to attract investment in wind energy, while balancing the interests of the community, according to NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes.
In a statement earlier this week, Mr Stokes said the new framework aims to address delays in the assessment process that in one case required more than 2,500 days for a project to be determined. The average determination times for wind projects in the past five years has been more than 1,000 days.
Mr Rob Stokes said the new framework is focused on driving better outcomes by encouraging proponents to engage early with the community.
"The policy framework has been developed in response to issues raised by community and industry around uncertainty in the application of the draft 2011 wind farm guidelines," Mr Stokes said.
"We've consulted widely, including with key environmental groups, industry, other states and the Australian National Wind Farms Commissioner, to better understand the key issues in developing this framework.
"Overwhelmingly, the most contentious issues in dealing with wind projects are noise and visual impacts. The framework will provide guidance to the industry on how to better design their projects with these impacts in mind, in the context of environmental, social and economic impacts. It will provide greater certainty and consistency for the renewable energy industry and the community.
"Importantly, there will be no arbitrary buffer zones based on the height of turbines.
"For all other assessment requirements, wind energy developments will be subject to the same assessment framework as other State Significant Developments.
"This new framework puts in place processes to identify potential impacts at an early stage to minimise conflict and delays.
"The framework strikes the appropriate balance between giving clear guidance to industry whilst ensuring that the impacts of the project are assessed on their merit.
"NSW has valuable wind and solar resources by international standards with many of the best areas located near existing electricity transmission infrastructure. The new framework will help NSW capture benefits from this industry and encourage investment in the State," Mr Stokes concluded.
Submissions for the proposed wind energy framework can be made until 16 September 2016. More information is available from the Department of Planning and Environment website at <http://planspolicies.planning.nsw.gov.au/index.pl?action=view_job&job_id=7859>.