National wind development code proposed

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Federal environment minister Ian Campbell has released a discussion paper on a proposed national code for wind farms. "The number of wind farms across Australia has grown rapidly over the past decade," he told the annual meeting of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. Since 1996, Australian wind power had increased from 20 wind turbines with a combined capacity of around 2.7 MW to 444 wind turbines and 638 MW, with another 130 turbines being installed. "This rapid growth has generated significant community and industry concern and debate," said Campbell. While he acknowledged a great deal of support for the wind industry, he added: "I have received a large number of letters from people across Australia unhappy with the consultation processes and the location and size of proposed developments. The multiple planning and regulatory arrangements operating across jurisdictions frustrate and confuse them, raising the legitimate question as to why there is no national standard." The code proposal follows his latest wind planning intervention -- the freezing of federal funding for the 2.4 MW Denmark Community Wind Farm in Western Australia (WA). The project was approved by the state planning minister, Allannah MacTiernan, in May, overturning an earlier rejection by the Denmark Shire Council. MacTiernan argues that the environmental benefits are in line with broader policy and says she believes the majority of the Denmark community is in favour of the project. Campbell, who has already caused controversy by recently overturning a wind planning permission granted by Victoria's state government says the Western Australia state government should not be overriding community opposition to the project.

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