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Recent regulatory updates across Australia

This article provides an overview of developments in the industry over the past couple of months that have occurred in several states across Australia.   

New South Wales 

The Hunter region has been declared an offshore wind zone expected to generate 5GW of wind energy. This is in addition to the region already having the Hunter Transmission Project to facilitate the transfer of electricity generated in renewable energy zones in the region. The Hunter Declared Area is approximately 1,854 km2 and will have a height restriction of 260m on turbines to ensure aviation safety. Proponents can submit feasibility licence applications for offshore wind projects in the region until 14 November. 

Submissions have also been requested regarding the proposed offshore renewable infrastructure in Illawarra, an area which extends from off the coast of Kiama to Wombarra. The area has been identified as suitable for offshore wind projects and is within the proposed Illawarra Renewable Energy Zone. The public consultation period is open until 16 October, after which the Minister will decide whether the proposed area is suitable for offshore wind development.


The Victorian Government has passed the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Amendment Bill that proposes to simplify how exploration, mining and extractive industries are regulated. The legislation introduces a duty-based approach that is similar to other environmental and occupational health and safety models. Work plans for exploration, mining and extractive industries will be more prescriptive but regulatory tools will largely be removed. The legislation also removes the work plan statutory endorsement process which should be more cost-effective and enable a quicker assessment and approvals process. The new scheme will come into effect from 1 July 2027 to provide time to put in place the appropriate regulatory systems and further consultations. 


The Queensland Government has been undertaking a review of the Wind Farm Code (State Code 23) which is used in planning assessment of wind farm applications. The review will consider several factors including how to better protect areas of high ecological and biodiversity value (including the Great Barrier Reef), assessing viable haulage routes, rehabilitation requirements and expectations, and the impact construction will have on local workforces and accommodation. The community consultation period has now closed and it is expected the government will respond in due time. 

The Government also released its draft 2023 Queensland Renewable Energy Zone Roadmap for public consultation. This is designed to coordinate the development of clean energy infrastructure in the State in areas with high potential while maximising benefits for local communities. The roadmap indicates the intent to work with landholders, communities, industry and First Nations people across all stages of the development of Renewable Energy Zones. Submissions close on 22 September and the final roadmap is expected to be published before the end of the year.  

Western Australia

The Western Australian government recently made the decision to repeal the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 just over a month after it became law. In its place is the original Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 with some amendments. The proposed amendments are likely to include equal rights for review and requirements to report new information about an Aboriginal site. They are also expected to include a revised policy to guide proponents through the Section 18 Consent process where work or development is likely to impact Aboriginal cultural heritage. It is expected the proposed amendments’ introduction to parliament is imminent. 

The Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation has also announced that it will no longer consider applications from gas producers to export liquified natural gas. This means all future gas projects will be restricted to supply the domestic market in Western Australia. This is intended to safeguard and secure the State’s gas supply and support long-term economic and industrial development in the state. 

South Australia

The South Australian Government has been consulting on its proposed Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Bill 2023. The proposed legislation aims to streamline regulatory processes for renewable energy and hydrogen production projects end to end. It intends to also reduce adverse impacts on the environment and to Aboriginal cultural heritage by facilitating greater engagement with the wider community. The Bill proposes a new licensing regime for hydrogen generation and renewable energy projects, seeks to regulate access and acquisition of land by licensees, creates a comprehensive environmental impact assessment regime and the establishment of a Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Fund to promote research into reducing the environmental damage and protecting cultural heritage. 

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