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Commissioner’s Observations and Recommendations (updated 2020)

The following is an extract of the Commissioner’s 2020 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. Complaint Handling and Emergency Procedures
  8. Site Selection
  9. Health Matters


Updated observations and recommendations

In the Commissioner’s 2016, 2017 and 2018 Annual Reports, the Commissioner made a number of observations and recommendations regarding the wind farm industry, largely based on experiences from handling complaints received, extensive site visits and engagement with a wide range of relevant stakeholders. These observations and recommendations covered many topics, including areas for potential improvement in the planning, governance and operation of the industry.

Our observations and recommendations have received significant feedback from stakeholders. Much of the feedback has been very supportive and aligned with the recommendations. Constructive feedback was also received suggesting further refinements and clarifications. Further, many of the recommendations have been duly considered by the relevant stakeholders and a number of the recommendations have now been implemented as a result.

The following sections are based on our 2018 report and have been further updated to include additional observations made during 2019. These updates are based on our experiences from handling new complaints, further site visits and stakeholder meetings, as well as incorporating feedback received on our 2018 report. In addition, observations and recommendations for 2019 include our experiences from the inclusion of large scale solar and storage projects within our jurisdiction.

For consistency, the 2019 report has utilised the same topic areas and numbering system employed in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 reports.

The recommendations detailed below are intended 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 discussion and adoption of the recommendations in a manner that will facilitate continuous improvement within the large-scale renewable energy industry.

Finally, as noted in previous annual reports, the large-scale wind and solar energy industry is still relatively new in Australia, with the first major wind farm developments commencing in the early 2000’s and large-scale solar projects commencing in the last decade. However, these industries have developed rapidly, with a significant acceleration in new projects in the past few years. Opportunities still exist for further improvement in the governance and operation of the industry, but substantial progress has been made in recent times.