New Ground | Expert Environmental Consultants in Queensland

Innovative Collaboration at the Intersection of Renewable Energy and Environmental Planning

The recent release of the “Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide” (Better Practice Guide) marks a milestone in the evolving landscape of renewable energy development and biodiversity management. Developed collaboratively by RE-Alliance, the Energy Charter, and Powerlink Queensland, this guide emerges from a series of cross-sector workshops in Queensland, aimed at harmonising energy production with ecological management.

Renewable energy projects possess unique potentials and challenges when it comes to environmental impact. The Better Practice Guide looks at these at a high level and proposes strategies to mitigate impacts while enhancing environmental benefits throughout the project lifecycle. From initial site selection to the intricate process of footprint refinement, the guide underscores the importance of leveraging ecological and environmental data to craft tailored vegetation, biodiversity and environmental management strategies. Moreover, it emphasises sustainable practices like the reuse, recovery, and recycling of project materials, to minimise the ecological footprint of renewable energy developments.

The guide highlights four strategic areas for cross-sector collaboration:

  1. Data Sharing: Encourages transparent and effective sharing of environmental data between renewable energy companies, government and environmental practitioners. This can lead to more informed decision-making processes that benefit both the environment and project efficacy. Obviously challenges will arise with sharing commercial confidence data. However, there can be a wealth of publicly available data to be harvested and factored into development planning.
  2. Co-designed Management Plans: Advocates for the joint design of vegetation management plans specifically for transmission corridors. This approach ensures that both energy transmission/maintenance concerns and ecological features of interest are considered from the outset.
  3. Habitat Networks: Proposes the establishment of rights-of-way as continuous habitat networks across Queensland, which could serve as crucial corridors for wildlife movement and vegetation preservation.
  4. Regional Economic Boost: Focuses on enhancing regional economic development through the recycling sector, turning waste from energy projects into economic opportunities for local communities.

The integration of these guidelines into renewable energy projects could significantly influence the design and management of future energy projects, ensuring they contribute positively to both the economy and the environment; a associated benefit may also be a more streamlined project planning approvals process given rigour applied to environmental impact assessment and management from early design works.

The Better Practice Guide can be accessed here.

At New Ground, we specialise in the delivery of comprehensive environmental planning, assessment, and management solutions. Our extensive experience in large energy sector projects positions us uniquely to assist in unlocking commercial, social licence and time-saving benefits associated with considered environmental planning inputs. We invite you to reach out to discuss how our expertise can align with your project’s objectives.

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