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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

3 May 2006

Towards a national code for wind farms


The Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, today released a discussion paper on a proposed national code for the construction of wind farms.

Speaking at the Business Council for Sustainable Energy annual conference in Brisbane, Senator Campbell said a National Code for Wind Farms would provide the basis for consistency, certainty and community confidence in wind power as a future source of energy.

“The number of wind farms across Australia has grown rapidly over the past decade, due largely to the investment stimulus provided by the Howard Government’s Mandatory Renewable Energy Target,” Senator Campbell said.

“In 1996, there were only 20 wind turbines in Australia, with a total energy generating capacity of around 2.7 megawatts. Today there are 444 wind turbines, representing a 2120 per cent increase, with a total capacity of about 638 megawatts. Another 130 turbines are under construction.

“This rapid growth of wind farms in Australia has generated significant community and industry concern and debate. While there is a great deal of support for the wind industry, I have received a large number of letters from people across Australia unhappy with the consultation processes, and the location and size of proposed developments.

“The multiple planning and regulatory arrangements operating across jurisdictions frustrate and confuse them, raising the legitimate question as to why there is no national standard.

The discussion paper reveals that wind farms receive very different planning treatment, depending in which State they are being constructed. In South Australia, for example, the Minister can refer a development such as he did with the Myponga Wind Farm, where he determined a 70-turbine wind farm should be reduced to 20 turbines (p. 12).

In NSW, however, until recently the same process applied for approving a house extension as it did for approving a wind farm, unless the Minister exercised his ‘call in’ powers to determine the project at the state level (p. 15).

“A key component of the code should take into account the wishes of the local community, often most fairly expressed by the local council,” Senator Campbell said.

Senatory Campbell said he would also be holding a roundtable of stakeholders to further develop the National Code.

“I have written to my State and Territory colleagues providing them with a copy of the discussion paper and advising them that the Australian Government, with the support of NSW, has listed the National Code as an agenda item at our next meeting of environment ministers in June.”

The National Code for Wind Farms discussion paper is available at www.greenhouse.gov.au/renewable

Media contact:
Marianne McCabe 02 6277 7640 or 0400 389 580

Commonwealth of Australia