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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
23 June 2006
Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said today’s decision by the State and Territory governments not to support the development of a National Code for Wind Energy Installations was a disappointment for both local communities and the wind energy industry.
The Labor states united at today’s meeting of environment Ministers in Sydney (EPHC) to vote against the Commonwealth proposal.
“Wind power is an important source of renewable energy and the Australian Government wants to ensure it continues to form part of our energy mix, in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable,” Senator Campbell said.
“However, an increasing number of communities are expressing concern about the potential impact of wind energy installations on landscapes, amenity and threatened species.
“Much of these publicly expressed concerns centre around the consistency and transparency of the public consultation process – essentially communities want to make sure that their views are heard and given a high priority.
“The wind energy industry is also concerned about the need for greater consistency and transparency in the wind energy installation planning and approval process.
“The message is loud and clear from both sides of this debate – but it apparently isn’t being heard by the State and Territory Governments.”
“I am very disappointed that, despite initial indications from New South Wales and Queensland that they would support communities in this matter, politics ruled the day. I will proceed to convene a national round table on this critical issue, which I will invite the states to take part in.”
Senator Campbell said, “I was particularly disturbed to hear the West Australian Environment Minister Mark McGowan argue against the code with the words, “… sometimes when local communities don’t agree you have to roll over the top of them …”.
“This is why we need a code, so that the members of the local community are given a high prominence in determining whether wind installation will go ahead.”
Senator Campbell said the rapid growth in the number of wind energy installations in Australia had largely been driven by the investment stimulated through the Australian Government’s Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET).
“In 1996 there were 20 wind turbines in Australia. Today there are almost 600 either built or under construction. A National Code for Wind Energy Installations is an important step towards ensuring a sustainable future for this important energy source.
“A nationally consistent development process will help harness the potential of wind energy to combat climate change, while reassuring communities and industry about planning, approval and operational issues.”
Rob Broadfield (Senator Campbell's Office) 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902