Pacific Hydro comments regarding the Senate Inquiry Report into the Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms

24 June 2011

Pacific Hydro notes that submissions to the Senate Inquiry show that community support is strong even though the Inquiry was surrounded by negative media attention.

Our analysis shows that of the more than 1,000 Australian submissions and letters to the Inquiry, 81% showed support for wind farms.

While health impacts were a significant focus of evidence and media attention, and complaints relate mostly to one Victorian wind farm which is not owned or operated by Pacific Hydro, the Senate Committee found no direct link between adverse health effects and wind turbines and did not want people to suggest a link had been found.

The Report calls for more research into the potential health impacts of wind farms. In Pacific Hydro’s view, if more research enables this issue to be resolved then we would welcome the opportunity to participate.

The report did not call for a moratorium on wind farms, and it rejected arbitrary planning rules not based in science being used to create criteria for wind farm setbacks.

The report noted that community benefits are identifiable and are important for regional economic stimulus along with broader greenhouse pollution reductions which provides a significant public good.

Best practice standards and community licence to operate are, and should remain a priority for developer engagement and were highlighted in the Senate Report. A number of the best practice elements identified by this report are already standard practice for Pacific Hydro’s developments.

Regulatory certainty for investment and project delivery remains important and while the Report notes a number of potential areas that State authorities may look into on planning or regulatory areas, broader investment signals through the delivery of the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target are not called into question at all by this Report.