Renewable energy projects in Queensland will receive preferential treatment with the introduction of the Queensland Government’s Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill 2023 (Bill).
Of particular interest to landholders is the proposed establishment of renewable energy zones (REZs) in which the development of clean energy infrastructure will be coordinated by the State Government in the areas of highest potential.
The Queensland Government has worked with Powerlink to identify 12 potential REZs to be developed by 2035.
At present the three regions and 12 potential REZs are as follows:
While the State Government is clearly signalling that private renewable energy should focus their resources on the REZs, the Bill contains few details about what the REZ declaration will mean. That detail is expected to come in the regulations, which will include criteria for the assessment of development projects in a REZ.
The State has emphasised in its consultation report that the REZ framework will not override existing development and planning processes.
Impact on landowners
Pleasingly for rural landowners, there is no suggestion in the Bill or REZ Roadmap that landholders will lose the ability to say ‘no’ to hosting renewable energy projects. Unlike in the context of mining and gas developments, there is generally no obligation on landowners to negotiate with project developers to host renewable energy projects. The Queensland Government has however indicated that it plans to develop a guide on best practice for developers to encourage “innovative and tailored community approaches” and increase project uptake.
The Bill is subject to further examination by the Transport and Resources Committee and ultimately Parliament. In the meantime, we expect that landholders will continue to receive approaches from numerous developers – particularly in the REZs.
Thynne + Macartney’s agriculture lawyers have extensive experience negotiating access licences, options to lease and leases for renewable energy projects and assist landowners to make the most of these opportunities.