THE Queensland Government last week announced the release of a draft code that aims to facilitate the development of expanded or new wind farms in appropriate locations while avoiding potential adverse impacts on the community and environment.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney said the draft code had been developed to provide a consistent approach to the planning and assessment of wind farms across the State.
"There is potential for further growth of this high-tech industry in Queensland and the government is mindful that if this occurs, development must be to best-practice standards that balance community expectations," Mr Seeney said.
Currently, local governments are the assessment managers for wind farm developments with proposals assessed against council planning schemes. However, Mr Seeney said most local planning schemes do not include provisions specific to wind farms and many councils do not have the expertise required to assess such technical developments.
"This document, once finalised and integrated into the State Development Assessment Provisions, will provide consistent guidelines for the potential development of wind farms in Queensland and certainty for the community," Mr Seeney said.
There are currently two small wind farms in Queensland – a 12 megawatt wind farm on the Atherton Tablelands and a 0.5 megawatt wind farm on Thursday Island – and approximately four wind farm proposals undergoing development assessment.
Mr Seeney said the inclusion of a state-wide development assessment code in the State Development Assessment Provisions would see responsibility for assessment of all wind farm proposals transferred to the State Assessment and Referral Agency, the single lodgement and assessment point for development applications under state government jurisdiction.
"This new approach will relieve local governments of the burden and costs incurred from seeking advice from technical experts on wind farms," he said.
The draft wind farm code is open for public consultation 13 May 2014. More information is available from the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning website at <http://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/>.