Planning code to support growing wind farm industry

Windy Hill Wind Farm, Atherton Tablelands, Queensland
Windy Hill Wind Farm, Atherton Tablelands, Queensland

The Queensland Government has released its first wind farm planning code, intended to support the state’s commitment to reach 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

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

“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 assessment requirements for the design, construction and operation of new or expanded wind farm proposals.

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

“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.”

The code includes strict guidelines to address community concerns about health and safety issues, including acoustic management. It also sets parameters to ensure development does not impact on the character, scenic amenity and landscape values of locations.

Guidelines relating to aviation safety, electromagnetic interference, shadow flicker, flora and fauna, traffic safety, stormwater management and construction management are also included.

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 tomorrow (July 22).