Wind power gathering force

Monday, 19 September, 2005

The Australian Council of National Trusts (ACNT) and the Australian Wind Energy Association (AusWEA) have released a collaborative report on the visual impacts of wind farms.

The report, which involved consultation with more than 50 organisations and individuals, formed part of the Wind Farms and Landscape Values Project conducted by ACNT and AusWEA with funding from the Heritage Division of the Department of Environment and Heritage and the Australian Greenhouse Office.

According to AusWEA chief executive officer, Dominique La Fontaine, less than one per cent of Australia's energy currently comes from wind power, compared to Denmark, which meets 19% of its national electricity demand from wind power; Spain, where the figure is six per cent; and Germany, where it is five per cent. "We are at a crossroads in our energy development in Australia and an opportunity is being presented to us that could unlock a new era of economic growth, technological progress and environmental protection," she said.

AusWEA President, Ian Lloyd-Besson, said, "The visual impact of a wind farm on the landscape is not simply a matter of subjective and personal opinion. It is critical to determine agreed ways to quantify the visual impact of any development on a landscape, and then weigh these up against the project's benefits."

Landscape assessment is regulated in Australia through government planning processes. It is also addressed in AusWEA's Best Practice Guidelines and in the policies and guidelines of the National Trust. However, there are no universally adopted methodologies or guidelines. The next stage of the project will involve developing some agreed guidelines.

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