The Climate Change Authority has released its review report on the National Wind Farm Commissioner, finding that the Commissioner has, in general, exceeded expectations in dealing with community complaints about wind farms. The report recommends that the Commissioner's role continue for a further three years with an expanded scope to include large scale solar and storage such as large scale batteries.
The National Wind Farm Commissioner was appointed by the Australian Government in late 2015 in response to community concerns about wind farms.
The Climate Change Authority Chair, Dr Wendy Craik said that while some stakeholders remained “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”, there was not much the Commissioner could do about wind farms that have already been approved, as these are generally matters for state and local governments.
The Authority found the Commissioner had made a number of best practice recommendations, which have improved the way the wind industry and governments work with affected communities.
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 Review of the National Wind Farm Commissioner is available here