Can you still use aerial bush fighting measures around a wind farm?

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Yes, you can.

In South Australian, Country Fire Service (CFS) published a fact sheet entitled Understanding Aerial Firefighting.  The CFS approach to wind farms is no different to any other structures such as power lines, weather masts or TV transmission towers.  The fact sheet states:

“where vertical obstructions exist in the airspace around a fire, such as power lines, weather masts, radio and television transmission towers, tall trees and wind turbines, a dynamic risk assessment is undertaken prior to the aircraft being committed to fire-bombing operations.”

More specifically in Victoria, in accordance with the Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development of Wind Energy Facilities, wind energy facility operators must develop a Bushfire Prevention and Emergency Response Plan as part of their Environmental Management Plan. The plan must address a variety of measures, but specifically noted in relation to aerial bush fighting measure:

“2.3. Wind turbines should be located approximately 300 metres apart. This provides adequate distance for aircraft to operate around a Wind Energy Facility given the appropriate weather and terrain conditions. Fire suppression aircraft operate under “Visual Flight Rules”. As such, fire suppression aircraft only operate in areas where there is no smoke and during daylight hours. Wind turbines, similar to high voltage transmission lines, are part of the landscape and would be considered in the incident action plan.”

Here we list documents from the CFA, Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) and the Senate Inquiry.