Australia: Are You A Fan? New Wind Farm Planning Guidelines Announced In NSW!

New Wind Energy Guidelines for state significant wind energy developments provide much needed guidance on the regulation of visual and noise impacts for renewable energy developers.

Released on 19 December 2016, the Guidelines reflect ever growing opportunities for developers in renewable energy in support of a push to meet Australia's Renewable Energy Targets by 2020.

Framework for Wind Energy Guidelines

The new framework will apply to new large-scale wind energy proposals that are State Significant Development (SSD), i.e., a capital investment value of AU$30 million, including modification applications.

SSD windfarm developments will be assessed under the State Environmental Planning Policy (State and Regional Development) 2011 and will be approved by the Minister or delegate.

Visual Impact

The Wind Energy: Visual Assessment Bulletin complements the Wind Energy Guidelines and provides a methodology for assessing visual impacts of wind farm developments.

There are two main stages of the visual assessment process:

  • a preliminary environmental assessment phase; and
  • the assessment and determination phase.

The preliminary assessment process includes gathering information from community consultation, topography, relative distance, existing vegetation and public viewpoint amenity impact and providing this data to the Department of Planning in order to obtain a Secretary's Environmental Assessment Requirement (SEAR).

The NSW Government's release of the new windfarm specific standard SEAR is proposed to guide developers in assessing key issues in wind energy proposals.

The assessment and determination phase requires a more detailed and comprehensive visual assessment as part of an Environmental Impact Statement including broader and overall landscape impacts of the proposed wind energy project, justification for the proposed layout against visual performance objectives, and identification of mitigation and management measures.

When assessing impacts, the consent authority will weigh up the landscape and visual impacts against the broader public interest. Notably, the Bulletin refers to the decision of Chief Justice Preston of the Land and Environment Court in Taralga Landscape Guardians Inc v Minister for Planning and RES Southern Cross Pty Ltd (2007) 161 LGERA 1 as an example of how the Court has balanced public interest against other impacts of windfarm developments.

The new framework seeks to move towards a clear and consistent merit based approach to visual performance objectives, providing greater certainty for both the industry and the community.

Noise Impact

The Wind Energy: Noise Assessment Bulletin complements the Wind Energy Guidelines and sets noise limits and a methodology for assessing noise levels.

The Bulletin introduces some of the strictest noise limits in the world at 35 dB(A) or the prevailing background noise plus 5 dB(A), whichever is the greater for each operational wind speed.

This limit is based on the requirements set out in the 2009 South Australian Wind farms – Environmental Noise Guidelines which guide the methodology adopted by this Bulletin.

The framework for noise impact assessment includes consideration of special noise characteristics including tonality and low frequency noise. It is worth noting that renewable energy technology is improving globally to reduce impacts of these special noise characteristics and tonality is now obsolete in European windfarms1. Strict penalties apply for exceeding special noise characteristic restrictions in accordance with the South Australia Guidelines.

Following determination of a project, monitoring of noise impact conditions are imposed and a noise mitigation and management plan is adopted to ensure compliance.

The Bulletin acknowledges the difficulties associated with wind turbine noise monitoring and provides opportunities for developers to propose alternative techniques, such as measurement of noise at intermediate locations from a variety of locations, which provides greater certainty in measurement data and is an improvement on the draft 2011 Guidelines.

The Bulletin also refers to the National Health and Medical Research Council's determination that there is no direct evidence that exposure to wind farm noise affects physical or mental health and commits to continuing to monitor contemporary scientific research outcomes to ensure its position reflects robust evidence on any health effects.

Community consultation agreements

The new Guidelines allow developers to enter into negotiated agreements with landowners to manage exceedances in assessment criteria and the decommissioning of turbines. Under the Guidelines, the developer is responsible for the reasonable costs of entering into such an agreement including payment of the landowner's costs of obtaining independent legal advice.

Find out more

The sophisticated reforms to NSW Wind Energy Guidelines will provide more opportunities and streamlined regulation for developers entering the rapidly growing renewable energy sector.


[1] Guidance Note on Noise Assessment of Wind Turbine Operations at EPA Licensed Sites (NG3), Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland (2011)

Dentons is the world's first polycentric global law firm. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways. Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business challenge. Now the world's largest law firm, Dentons' global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local, national and global needs of private and public clients of any size in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
4 Apr 2017, Seminar, New York, United States

Please join Dentons for an informative seminar examining the current landscape for cross-border M&A. We will hold two panel discussions, followed by a networking reception, in our New York office on April 4 from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Both sessions will offer limited seating, in order to facilitate group participation and dialogue.

5 Apr 2017, Other, New York, United States

Join your friends at Dentons and KCC for the Second Annual Texas Hold'em poker tournament. Come out to meet and catch up with fellow colleagues in the restructuring and distressed investing fields.

11 Apr 2017, Seminar, Singapore, Singapore

The Dentons Rodyk Dialogue is a partnership between Dentons Rodyk and Singapore Management University (SMU) to create a major forum for thought leaders to share ideas and views affecting Asia’s legal, business, cultural and economic landscape.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.