Energy producers wanting to erect wind turbines or solar energy plants on farmlands in the Western Cape will only need to gain consent for use of the land from the local municipality in order to build sources of renewable energy.
Anton Bredell, the MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning says that the move is designed to remove one of the administrative steps needed to erect renewable energy plants in South Africa.
Bredell emphasised that the change in legislation would not affect any of the other legal requirements that required for renewable energy in South Africa.
He says that at the moment all applications for wind energy generation are classified as “listed activities” and have to undertake a comprehensive environmental impact assessment prior to being built.
Under the current legislation the rezoning application can only be done once the environmental impact assessment has been completed and the public consulted.
Private energy producers have to conform to the requirements of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa before being granted a licence to generate electricity.
He says the new legislation will require permission from the farmer for a wind or solar energy plant to be built on the land and will need to get consent use from the local municipality.
However, he emphasised that the nature and scale of commercial wind farms would require careful consideration from the local councils.
He says his department has produced a planning tool for assessing the regional impact of wind farms that can be used as a guideline for identifying suitable areas for energy production.
Bredell also emphasised that no farmer can be “forced” to become involved in any solar or wind energy project.