New planning code to support wind farm industry in Queensland

THE QUEENSLAND Government said it is continuing its commitment to renewable energy, following the release last week of the state's first wind farm planning code.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Jackie Trad said the new code will deliver a consistent whole-of-government approach to assessing wind farm proposals, and would transition the assessing authority from local to state government.

Albany Wind Farm, WA
Above: A wind farm at Albany in Western Australia / by David Clarke.

"Most local government planning schemes do not cover wind farms, and many councils don't have the specific technical expertise to assess such applications," Ms Trad said.

"We have brought together national and international best practice, and expert advice, to lift the burden off councils and provide a consistent state-wide approach to assessing wind farm proposals through the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA).

"The code sets out clear assessment requirements for the design, construction and operation of new or expanded wind farm proposals and is a big step forward in reaching our important target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

"Wind farms, such as the one I approved at Mt Emerald, have the capacity to generate 225 megawatts (MW) of electricity, or 500,000MW hours of renewable energy each year, with the potential to power around 75,000 homes for over 20 years.

"That particular project will also employ up to 150 workers throughout construction, generating direct and indirect economic benefits to the local economies.

"This code will provide much needed certainty to individuals and communities, as well as industry looking to invest in renewable energy production in Queensland in the future."

Ms Trad said community feedback had directly informed the final code.

"This code includes strict guidelines to address community concerns about health and safety issues, including acoustic management," Ms Trad said.

"It also ensures that development does not unreasonably impact on the character, scenic amenity and landscape values of a location."

The code includes guidelines relating to aviation safety, electromagnetic interference, shadow flicker, flora and fauna, traffic safety, stormwater management, construction management and acoustic amenity.

The code does not apply to smaller turbines that are used for a domestic or rural use.

The wind farm state code, and its supporting planning guideline, will come into effect on 22 July 2016. More information is available from the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning website at <http://www.dilgp.qld.gov.au/windfarms>.

Photo: Albany Wind Farm, WA / David Clarke / Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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