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NSW flags tighter rules on where wind and solar farms can be built

The New South Wales government is seeking to amend state planning rules to protect major regional centres from “encroaching solar and wind development,” as the state ramps up its shift to a renewable powered grid.

The proposed State Environmental Planning Policy changes would limit the construction of large-scale wind or solar projects within 10km of the commercial centres of Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Griffith, Orange, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga, and within 5km of residential land in those towns.

The new rules would require planning authorities to consider additional mandatory matters before granting approval to projects planned for the designated zones, including whether they might impair the future growth of a regional city.

Authorities would also be required to consider whether a proposed solar or wind farm might significantly affect the scenic quality and landscape character of a regional city, including the approaches to it.

In the “Strategic Justification” of the proposed new rules, the NSW government said the increasing number of big solar and wind projects required to support the state’s transition to renewables had the potential to create or exacerbate land-use conflicts.

“It is important to preserve land on the outskirts of regional cities from potentially incompatible development, such as solar and wind farms, that could preclude growth and development of these cities in the future,” it says.