We recently responded to the Updates to Queensland’s State Code 23 - Wind Farm Development and associated Planning Guidance.
We note that Queensland’s planning framework for wind farms is a key enabler for the state to deliver on its targets for renewable generation of 50% by 2030, 70% by 2032 and 80% by 2035. Wind – along with solar, pumped hydro and energy storage – is critical to the state’s energy security, emissions and climate goals.
In our view, updates to State Code 23 should be fit for purpose and meet the contemporary needs of communities hosting wind farm infrastructure, local councils, the region and the state.
Our submission welcomes a number of changes that will address current gaps in the Code. For example:
- There is improved clarity about what is required to be provided for assessment to the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA).
- There is more clarity about information requirements for environmental outcomes.
- There is more clarity about workforce accommodation requirements for assessment.
There are, we stress, key areas where the Code updates could be improved in relation to environment and nature impacts/outcomes, information provision and community engagement; and addressing and minimising cumulative impacts. In the full submission, we go into brief detail about why improvements and needed and what can be done for each and make key recommendations to the Queensland Government.
In brief, our key recommendations are that the Queensland Government and / or the Queensland Planning department:
- Take follow-on actions to improve environmental outcomes through changes to the Planning Act (2016).
- Include the REZ Management Planner as an entity which the Planning Department consults for assessments under State Code 23.
- Develop a clear, plain-English outline of how the various Codes, acts, frameworks and plans work together is provided to complement the Wind Code.
- Ensure early, ongoing and transparent project information provided to the local community is set as a baseline.
- Require community engagement plans to be developed and community engagement guidance to be added in the Wind Code and associated Guidance.
- Consider how to better enable or require community funds for project development that has the involvement of community in co-design, management and decision-making.
- Require assessments for habitat connectivity on a local and catchment scale; and on regional labour/skilled labour impacts from the project.
- Require third-party auditing throughout the construction and commissioning phases of all conditions of approval.