The Climate Change Authority today released its review report on the National Wind Farm Commissioner.
The National Wind Farm Commissioner was appointed by the Australian Government in late 2015 in response to community concerns about wind farms. When the National Wind Farm Commissioner was established in 2015, the Government said it would review the role in 2018. The Authority’s review responds to that undertaking.
The Climate Change Authority Chair, Dr Wendy Craik said ‘In general, the National Wind Farm Commissioner has exceeded expectations in dealing with community complaints about wind farms.
The Authority recognises, however, that some stakeholders remain very unhappy with the outcome of their complaints to the Commissioner about wind farms – in many cases because of ongoing concerns about turbine noise and health impacts.
However, there isn’t much the Commissioner can do about wind farms that have already been approved – these are generally matters for state and local governments’, Dr Craik said.
The Authority found the Commissioner has made a number of best practice recommendations, which have improved the way the wind industry and governments work with affected communities.
In light of these findings and the ongoing growth in the wind industry in Australia, the Authority recommends that the role continue for a further three years.
The Authority also recommends that the Commissioner’s scope be expanded, with a modest increase in Australian Government funding, to include large scale solar and storage such as large scale batteries given their potential to cause community concerns.
The Authority recommends that the Commissioner’s role and funding be reviewed again in 2021 in light of the rapidly changing renewable energy industry in Australia.
With the goal of continuous improvement in mind, the Authority has recommended some enhancements to the accessibility and transparency of the Commissioner’s complaints handling services and measures to broaden public awareness of the role.
The Authority explored possible alternative funding models for the Commissioner (including an industry levy) but found the case for cost recovery is not compelling once administration costs are factored in.
The Climate Change Authority is an independent statutory agency, which provides expert advice to the Government on climate change policy. The Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, asked the Authority to conduct a special review of the role of the National Wind Farm Commissioner.
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