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Big blow for NSW wind farm projects

The Minns Labor Government has released a map deeming majority of NSW as “less suitable” for wind farm developments under its ‘Draft Wind Energy Guidelines’.

Released as part of the NSW Government’s draft renewable energy policies that will aim to make the state’s transition to net zero emissions by 2050, the map details five key renewable energy zones (REZs) that the Government will “encourage” to develop renewable energy means, according to the report. However, wind energy is set to play an insignificant role in the state’s net zero targets, the sites only labelled as “suitable” and existing within an REZ existing near Griffith, Dubbo, and Armidale.

The NSW Government has released its Draft Wind Energy Guidelines detailing the most suitable sites for wind farms.
The map in the NSW Government’s new guidelines.

One of the key considerations that went into the draft map for potential wind energy sites was the accessibility for what the report labels “heavy and over-dimensional vehicles”. To factor this in, the report says that all future wind farm applications must adhere to the outlined traffic and transport principles of:

  • Undertaking an assessment that considers both the project and cumulative impacts on the local and classified road network.
  • If the network cannot accommodate the traffic generated by the project, upgrades must be proposed to facilitate the development.
  • Ensuring that local Councils and communities are informed about potential traffic disruptions and construction scheduling to manage and address traffic safety concerns and avoid cumulative impacts with other major developments where possible.

The report also outlined a range of decommissioning and rehabilitation principles, such as:

  • The land on which a wind energy project and supporting infrastructure has been developed must be returned to pre-existing or agreed use if the project is decommissioned.
  • If operations cease, redundant above-ground infrastructure should be removed within 18 months unless there is significant justification for retaining it.
  • The applicant of a wind energy project should be responsible for decommissioning, and this should be reflected in the host agreement with the landholder.
  • Applicants should ensure host landholders are informed about the proposed decommissioning plan for the project.

Additionally, the new guidelines outline the need for all wind farm operators to show an agreement with the landholder that rehabilitation and decommissioning activities can plausibly be funded.

The NSW Government’s Draft Wind Energy Guidelines were released on November 15.

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