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Commissioner’s Observations and Recommendations (updated 2018)

The following is an extract of the Commissioner’s 2018 Annual Report which includes a number of observations and recommendations for consideration in relation to the governance, development and operation of wind farm projects.

  1. Host Landowner Negotiations
  2. Neighbour Consultation and Agreements
  3. Community Engagement
  4. Planning Permits – Time Limits and Scope Changes
  5. Governance and Compliance of Standards and Permit Conditions
  6. Use and selection of Experts
  7. Wind Farm Complaint Handling and Emergency Procedures
  8. Site Selection
  9. Health Matters

Glossary

Updated observations and recommendations

In the Commissioner’s 2016 and 2017 Annual Reports, the Commissioner made a number of observations and recommendations regarding the wind farm industry, largely based on experiences from handling complaints received and engagement with relevant stakeholders. These observations and recommendations covered a broad range of topics, including areas for potential improvement in the planning, governance and operation of the wind energy industry.

These observations and recommendations have received significant feedback from stakeholders. Much of the feedback was very supportive and aligned with the recommendations, constructive feedback was also received that suggested further refinements and clarifications. Many recommendations have been duly considered by the relevant stakeholders and a number of the recommendations were implemented and adopted in 2018.

The following sections are based on the 2017 report and have been further updated to include additional observations made during 2018 in handling complaints and undertaking various stakeholder meetings, as well as incorporating feedback received on the 2017 report. For consistency, the 2018 report has utilised the same topic areas and numbering system employed in both the 2016 and 2017 reports.

A number of the Commissioner’s 2017 report recommendations were implemented during 2018 or are in the process of being implemented. As always, there may also be other approaches to achieve similar outcomes that are intended by the recommendations.

The recommendations below are for consideration by the relevant stakeholders. The Commissioner has no formal powers to mandate the implementation of these recommendations. That said, the Commissioner looks forward to the ongoing adoption of the recommendations in a manner that will enable continuous improvement within the wind industry.

Finally, as noted in previous annual reports, the large-scale wind energy industry is still relatively new in Australia, with the first major wind farm developments commencing in the early part of the last decade. However the industry is developing rapidly, with a significant acceleration in new developments over the past few years and in the coming future. A significant number of opportunities still exist for improvement in the governance and operation of the industry.

With regard to large-scale solar and energy storage, the Commissioner will formulate observations and views during 2019 and provide inaugural recommendations in the 2019 Annual Report. However, many of the recommendations detailed below would also be applicable to solar and storage projects.