Campbell calls for integrated approach on wind power

FEDERAL Environment Minister Ian Campbell proposed a national approach to wind energy last Friday, saying local planning and community issues have to be addressed in order to realise the potential of the renewable energy source.

Campbell calls for integrated approach on wind power

Campbell called for a national agreement on wind energy, with provisions for local community input on developing a low-emissions energy future.

“Wind power is an excellent source of renewable energy, but it is being given a bad name because the views of local communities are often ignored when large-scale wind farm proposals are being considered in their area," the minister said.

Campbell said he had written to the states and territories seeking support for the national agreement.

New South Wales Planning Minister Frank Sartor also voiced his opinions on wind energy last Friday while speaking to ABC Radio News, saying he hoped to review the planning guidelines relating to proposed wind energy projects.

“I think the timelines will be such that I'll be able to review the guidelines first without having necessarily to hold things up,” Sartor said.

“It's one of those difficult balancing acts … I know communities often don't want them; on the other hand they're a really good thing to do environmentally."

Senator Campbell said he would write to the NSW planning minister suggesting a partnership in the development of a national agreement that would meet the needs of federal, state and local governments and communities.

“A consistent national agreement would empower local communities and include them in the decision-making process because they have the local knowledge about the potential impacts on the landscape, property values and wildlife in their area,” Campbell said.

Campbell noted that there had been an “explosion” of wind power projects in Australia under the current government, although he made no indication of extending the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target initiative that has played an important role in establishing a range of renewable energy sources.

However, Campbell said proven low-emissions renewable technologies such as wind and solar power were critical for the environment.

“It's important that wind energy is seen to be a friend to Australia's energy future,” he said.

“The challenge of climate change demands even more renewable energy and the principle of democracy demands greater consultation with local communities."

However, the Australian Wind Energy Association responded to Campbell's comments by saying it had already developed a national code in its Best Practice Guidelines, and that the minister should support its proposed national accreditation program.

“The Auswind Best Practice Guidelines cover the entire development spectrum, from initial project scoping, to construction, to decommissioning and the industry intends to review them regularly to ensure compliance with Best Practice in areas as diverse as community consultation, bird risk, noise and landscape effect assessment,” said AWEA chief executive Dominique La Fontaine.

La Fontaine said the AWEA was already working with the Australian Council of National Trust to develop industry standards incorporating community consultation and planning agreements.

"With Minister Campbell’s help, we could have a comprehensive system of industry guidelines and accreditation up and running within months, not years,” she said.


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