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Improving understanding of wind farm biodiversity impacts an important step

The Clean Energy Council welcomes today’s announcement of a program of work to better understand and manage biodiversity risks near wind farms, committed by the Victorian Government to provide renewable energy investors and developers with the confidence to build projects.

Program funding will contribute to research projects and spatial analysis to identify risks and fill critical knowledge gaps on the best approaches to reducing any adverse environmental impacts from wind farms.

“We are pleased that the Victorian government has committed to an important program of work to address the uncertainty that has affected the wind industry in recent years,” said Clean Energy Council Director of Energy Generation and Storage, Dr Nicholas Aberle.

“A lack of policy direction to assess and mitigate risks to biodiversity has contributed to significant delays in project assessment, especially for wind farms.”

No wind farms were approved in Victoria during 2023, due in large part to systemic ambiguity within government departments about these risks and how these can be appropriately avoided, mitigated and managed.

In 2023, high-profile planning recommendations at the Willatook wind farm project with regard to bird and bat guidelines exacerbated confusion about how renewable energy project proposals are assessed, creating a chilling effect on the investment environment in Victoria.

“Wind farms do have some environmental impacts, but these are well down the list of threats to any species or ecosystem, when compared to other issues, including feral cat and fox predation and wetland degradation, among others,” Dr Aberle said.

“By contrast, climate change is one of the most significant and complex threats to biodiversity, which is precisely what renewable energy is uniquely placed to address.

“Better knowledge of species most at risk will give industry and government departments the certainty needed to approve and build wind farms with sound mitigation and management practices.”

While the research program looks set to boost industry and government understanding of environmental impacts, it will also take time to progress and publish its findings, during which current uncertainties may continue to delay a timely energy transition.

“While we welcome the program of work announced today, we are also aware that it will take time for this work to take effect. In the meantime, much of the policy uncertainty could persist.

“We hope that today’s announcement will send a clear signal that decision makers within Departments should strive to find effective and appropriate ways of minimising impacts, rather than impose overly restrictive approaches to impact that only serve to delay climate solutions.”


For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Liam Straughan
Clean Energy Council Media Officer
[email protected]
+61 409 470 683